MI5 and police to get faster alerts on suspicious buys under terrorism plan
Home Secretary Sajid Javid wants firms to raise the alarm as quickly as possible if they have evidence of unusual transactions.
MI5 and police will be alerted to suspicious purchases more quickly under the Government’s new blueprint for tackling terror.
On Monday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid will outline plans to work more closely with businesses to eradicate the “safe spaces” that are exploited by violent extremists.
He is expected say: “That includes faster alerts for suspicious purchases, improving security at crowded places across the UK, and reducing the vulnerability of our critical infrastructure.”
Ministers want firms to raise the alarm as quickly as possible if they have evidence of unusual transactions – such as someone stockpiling large amounts of chemicals or acting suspiciously when hiring a vehicle.
As a Home Secretary with a name like Sajid Javid - I’m everything they despise Sajid Javid
The move reflects concern over a sharp reduction in the timeframe between the conception and execution of terror plots as attackers are radicalised to the point of violence within days or weeks.
Giving his first keynote speech on security since his appointment, Mr Javid will warn there has been a “step-change” in the threat.
He will argue that Daesh – also known as Islamic State – and the extreme right-wing are “more similar than they might like to think”, saying: “They both exploit grievances, distort the truth, and undermine the values that hold us together.
“And there’s one other thing that Islamists and the far right have in common. As a Home Secretary with a name like Sajid Javid – I’m everything they despise.
“So the way I see it, I must be doing something right.”
Mr Javid will use the address to announce details of the Government’s latest counter-terror strategy, known as Contest.
A huge exercise was launched across government, intelligence agencies and policing to identify new measures to stop atrocities after five attacks hit the UK in less than six months.
The new strategy will:
-Detail plans for MI5 intelligence on some individuals of concern to be shared more widely across government, local authorities and policing
-Firm up proposals to increase maximum sentences for some offences, such as repeatedly viewing terror content online
-Outline a new approach to managing the rising threat from extreme right-wing violence
-Set out steps to enhance the use of data to track suspects by police and MI5
-Emphasise the need for collaboration with the private sector on tackling terrorist material online
-Reaffirm the Government’s commitment to the Prevent anti-terror scheme
Mr Javid will say: “Ultimately, our approach is about ensuring that there are no safe spaces for terrorists. No safe spaces internationally, in the UK or online.”
It emerged on Sunday that security services expect the threat from Islamist terror to remain at its current heightened level for at least another two years, while they assess the risk from extreme right-wing terrorism as increasing.
Since March last year 12 Islamist and four extreme right-wing attack plots have been foiled.
MI5 and police are running more than 500 live operations involving roughly 3,000 “subjects of interest” at any one time. In addition, there are in excess of 20,000 people who have previously been investigated and who could again pose a threat.
Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, was categorised as a “closed subject of interest” at the time of his attack.
In a significant shift, MI5 will share its intelligence more widely and work with partners such as local authorities on how best to manage the risk posed by closed subjects of interest.
Discussing the step on Sunday, Mr Javid told the BBC it was devised to ensure there is a “much higher chance” of detecting and disrupting plots at an early stage.
The Home Secretary denied the change would mean headteachers or local government officials being used as additional security agents, pointing to existing commitments to boost counter-terror police funding and recruit nearly 2,000 staff at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
Simon Blackburn, chair of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “Councils are committed to safeguarding communities by tackling extremism and already look for tell-tale signs of people at risk of radicalisation and work with the police and other agencies to protect people.
“Information sharing could be a positive step but what is crucial is that councils are not treated as a replacement for the expertise and resources of the security services and police.
“Local authorities are not MI5 and it’s essential that the police and security services lead on responding to and acting on any threats.”