By Connor Steel
HOME SECRETARY Suella Braverman has forewarned that the UK terrorist risk is “rising” as the Government outlined changes to their anti-terrorism strategy; the first time this document has been updated since 2018 as ministers detailed their concerns regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and the ongoing global rises in attacks related to “Islamic extremism”.
The updated strategy, entitled ‘CONTEST’, was published on Tuesday morning and stated there has been a total of six terror incidents in Britain since 2018; which have killed six people and injured twenty others. The Home Office has also detailed that another thirty-nine terrorist ‘plots’ were disrupted by security officials using intelligence and other methods.
A written report for CONTEST further highlighted that there is “persistent and evolving threats” by Islamist terror groups overseas; which includes Islamic State (Daesh) and Al Qaeda. These findings are based on figures that show that 67% of attacks since 2018 were connected to this ‘ideology’; as well as 64% of those currently in custody for terror offences.
Another priority for security staff is around the subject of “domestic and right wing terrorism”; which is defined as being “unpredictable” and less organised as they tend to consist of “informal online communities”. In a speech Ms Braverman admitted this form of terrorism was further becoming “harder to detect and investigate”, putting this down to technology.
Advances in the digital world were outlined as the third ‘main’ priority for Government; who wrote that “terrorists exploit technology to hide their networks, spread their propaganda and enable their attacks”. Online behaviour is said to be a concern due to rises in the number of people arrested by counter-terrorism police linked to sharing or sourcing content.
But despite the warning, the Home Secretary said these increases were from a “lower base” than five years ago; which came after five significant attacks in 2017 including those in Manchester and Central London. The Fareham MP further outlined a variety of points that Government are planning to implement or are currently actioning to deal with terrorism.
This included “fully operationalising” the Counter Terrorism Operations Centre (CTOC); which would bring together the teams, data and technology together into one place in order to effectively identify / disrupt potential attacks. The online safety bill would also be implemented; whilst the Home Office plans to implement the ‘Independent Review of Prevent‘.
The increases in artificial intelligence is being looked upon, whilst the Government will work with technology companies to ensure safer use of the internet in relation to terrorism. Officials added they will also “deepen” their counter terrorism partnerships internationally whilst hoping to further strengthen all British borders to make them a critical line of defence.
Government departments should be putting into place “Martyn’s Law” to ensure greater protection for all those in public spaces, whilst they have endeavoured to act on findings from the Manchester Arena Inquiry to close the ‘gaps’ in terror attack responses. An urgent review of support for victims and survivors of attacks is also documented in this document.
The UK terrorism “threat level” will continue to be monitored on a daily basis and remains at “substantial”; meaning that an attack is “likely”. It has remained at this level since February 2022 and dropped from “severe”; the higher level being implemented in response to the bombing attack outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital that happened in November 2021.
Readers can explore the full contents of CONTEST by clicking on the link; which should download a PDF file. They can furthermore see more information on the UK terrorist levels and the impact by visiting this dedicated Government page.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (RD2G9K): Suella Braverman gives a speech in Westminster Hall on Tuesday morning (18/07).