On June 4th, 2018, Britain’s home secretary Sajid Javid announced new measures to help combat terrorism within the country. Since British decision to leave the European Union (EU) -commonly referred to as Brexit- the European Union (EU) has been split on the nature of security cooperation with the British government. Javid recently urged Brussels to maintain strong counterterrorism ties with the United Kingdom.
Javid said it would be “wrong and reckless” for either country to reduce security cooperation post Brexit. Reducing security cooperation would leave openings that that terrorist organizations could potentially exploit and then be able to attack Britain or other EU member states. Javid said that the biggest threat to British national security is remains “Islamist terrorism.”
The Home Office in the United Kingdom said that they would continue to face a severe threat from Islamist terror groups and their supporters for at least another two years. Security agencies have foiled 12 jihadist terror plots since March of last year. Within the last 5 years British law enforcement and along with intelligence agencies have prevented upwards of 25 potential attacks.
One major concern for the Home Office is the number of convicted terrorists who will be released from prison in the coming year. From 2007-2016, approximately 193 sentences for terror-related offenses were handed out, and of those more than 80 will run out by the end of 2018. This upcoming mass prison release comes as London marks the first anniversary of the London Bridge terrorist attack that killed 8 and injured over 40 people.
The Home Office’s new counter-terrorism strategy is intended to boost cooperation between MI5, local police and the private sector. Lessons learned in both the London Bridge and Manchester attacks are integrated into the new strategy. The Home Office intends to emphasize individuals reporting suspicious behavior, including those such as stockpiling large quantities of chemicals or acting suspicious when renting vehicles.
The new counter-terrorism strategy would involve declassifying a watchlist of over 20,000 British citizens and sharing that information with local authorities with the aim of preventing future attacks.
Information will now be shared amongst multiple law enforcement and civilian agencies. The multiagency approaches will be first used in London, Manchester and West Midlands.
These counter-terrorism reform strategies come in the wake of 5 different terrorist attacks that took place in the UK in 2017. These 5 attacks combined to kill 50 people and injured over 262 individuals.
Other counter-terrorism approaches that are being looked into include improving data usage by police and MI5, and increasing the sentences for terror-related offenses.