My plan to counter terrorism and make London safer
To make our city safer we must put aside partisan politics, and grip four things: intelligence, rehabilitation, control and response.
Today, Rory Stewart outlines the approach he would take to counter terrorism as Mayor of London - an approach which has already gained the endorsement of General Sir Graeme Lamb, who led counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rory Stewart said:
“To make our city safer we must put aside partisan politics, and grip four things: intelligence, rehabilitation, control and response.”
“I have already set out Operation Local - my plan to boost neighbourhood policing - which will give us much better local intelligence. And as Mayor, I would bid to take control of probation as well as police in London - to ensure that terrorists don’t fall through the gaps in the current system. I would also increase investment in the Police’s armed rapid response capacity. We learned the value of such teams in the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris, and it was the investment in these teams that allowed the police to act so quickly in Streatham on Sunday afternoon."
General Sir Graeme Lamb said:
“Tackling terrorism requires deep understanding and a willingness to wrestle with complex causes and cultures. It needs energy, patience and attention to detail. Rory Stewart’s greatest strength has been his ability to sit down and listen. He understands more than most that what is required is so often a difficult but necessary contradiction: courageous restraint on the one hand but the willingness to act decisively when necessary on the other — from his time in Iraq, to his responsibilities as Prisons minister, he defined his actions by his clear accountability to those he served and to those he defended. His counter-terrorism approach is sober, and realistic, rooted in experience -- he can be entrusted with London’s safety.”
As Mayor Rory would triple the number of uniformed police on the streets of London – and these would be neighbourhood officers, dedicated to specific wards. Their local knowledge and relationships are the vital first line in picking up signs of radicalisation. As part of this he would also recruit more experts with a deep knowledge of radical Islam, of communities, and of the way in which today’s terrorists are different to those of ten years ago. On an international level, he will continue to push for intelligence and data-sharing. This is especially as we leave the EU, a process which potentially puts some of our key data-sharing alliances at risk.
Rory would work with London prisons to ensure more effective rehabilitation of people convicted of terrorism offences while they’re still in prison. He would advocate for more terrorist separation units, and for better use of them. He would also call for greater collaboration and information sharing between our police, prison and probation databases, in order to improve our understanding of criminals and the risks that they pose.
As prisons minister Rory invested in training for prison Imams to combat radicalisation, and funded more research on Islam in prisons. Rory would advocate for this same approach across London - and call for the prison service to train far more prison and probation officers in how to work with terrorist offenders. Under Rory’s plans a single specialist case officer
would be assigned to each terrorist – to follow them right through the system, and make sure this information flow continues when they’re released.
Once ex-offenders are judged to be ready for release, Rory would ensure better monitoring and control: improving risk assessment processes, licence conditions, skills of probation officers, electronic tagging, and curfews. By taking control of London’s probation service from central government, Rory will ensure that information about recently released offenders is joined up with the police and social services.
As Mayor Rory would increase investment in armed rapid response capacity within the Metropolitan Police - in order to increase our ability to identify and neutralise anyone who evaded these measures. We learned the value of such teams in the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris, and it was the investment in these teams that allowed the police to act so quickly in Streatham on Sunday afternoon. In future Rory would increase cooperation with the police forces of other global capitals, such as Paris and New York, to make sure that the Met stays at the cutting edge even as terrorist threats evolve.