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Up to 80% of would-be attackers British-born or raised, says counter-terror boss

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the UK must improve community cohesion, social mobility and education to tackle the terror threat.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Britain’s head of counter-terror policing has said that up to 80% of those who wanted to attack the UK were British-born or raised.

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said police and security services are no longer enough to win the fight against extremism and called on wider society to play a role.

In an interview with The Guardian, he said the UK must improve community cohesion, social mobility and education to tackle the terror threat.

“Nothing I am saying remotely excuses these heinous acts of criminal violence,” he told the paper.

Don’t forget that 70%-80% of the people we arrest, disrupt or commit an attack here, are born and raised here. Born or at least raised here Neil Basu, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner

“But the deeper causes need examining. My teams are world class at stopping attacks and locking terrorists up. But we need to stop the flow of recruits into terrorism.

“Don’t forget that 70%-80% of the people we arrest, disrupt or commit an attack here, are born and raised here. Born or at least raised here. That has got to tell us something about our society – that we have got to look at why they would be prepared to do that.

“I want good academics, good sociologists, good criminologists … to be telling us exactly why that is.”

Mr Basu admitted that the Government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy had been “badly handled” and argued it needed to be more community-led to be successful.

He suggested policies that encouraged more social cohesion, social mobility and education would be more likely to drive down violence than the activities of the police and security services.

Mr Basu also said British Muslims should not be forced to “assimilate”, adding: “You should be able to practise your culture or religion openly and still be accepting of others, and others be accepting of you. That is a socially inclusive society.”

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