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22 plots foiled since March 2017, says counter-terrorism police chief

Neil Basu said seven of the planned attacks were linked to right-wing extremism.

Neil Basu was speaking in defence of Prevent (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Neil Basu was speaking in defence of Prevent (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Margaret Davis, PA Crime Correspondent

The UK head of counter-terrorism policing has revealed that 22 plots have been foiled since March 2017.

Neil Basu, speaking at a conference in Israel, said seven of the planned attacks were linked to right-wing extremism.

The Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner was speaking in defence of Prevent, the Government’s anti-extremism scheme which will be reviewed in 2020.

Former terror watchdog Lord Carlile, who is carrying out the review, has not ruled out scrapping the scheme.

But Mr Basu said: “No-one who has challenged Prevent, to date, has had a better idea.”

We need the whole of society to help spot danger and intervene earlier – remembering the maxim that it’s communities that defeat terrorism Neil Basu

He told conference delegates: “The challenges of 2019 are as great as we have ever faced.

“We need the whole of society to help spot danger and intervene earlier – remembering the maxim that it’s communities that defeat terrorism.

“Those communities need help from protective services unused to dealing with violent ideology – health, education and social care – and they need the help of the private sector.”

He warned that “relentless media coverage” of attacks may encourage terrorists and “unwittingly amplify the threat”.

Mr Basu went on: “Rather than just treat the symptoms of terrorism we must treat the causes.

“Prevent, which offers a bespoke programme of support for vulnerable individuals, is the closest thing to a public health solution we have.”

However, he acknowledged that the scheme has “issues”.

“I promote Prevent but I do acknowledge its issues. To do otherwise would be to ignore opportunities to improve and would be a failure of leadership.

“It’s on its third iteration in 12 years and remains as controversial today as it was when it started. We need to ask why that is.

“It’s not the idea, it’s in the implementation and communication that we have struggled.

“We have failed to convince our detractors that we are on the side of the vast majority of the public, who want nothing to do with terrorism or its apologists.”

Mr Basu said he would work with Lord Carlile on the review but would not give in to critics pursuing “their own agenda”.

Prevent places an obligation on workers in education, health and social care to report signs of extremism.

It has been criticised by some communities as government spying, and as discriminatory against Muslims.

PA

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