Amelia Clarke, Daily Mail, August 6, 2019
Britain’s head of counter-terror policing has said homegrown terrorism is fuelled by a lack of social mobility and inclusion.
Neil Basu, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, said better education and opportunities for young people would do more to fight terrorism than ‘the policing and state security apparatus put together’.
He also said British Muslims should not be forced to ‘assimilate’, adding: ‘Assimilation implies that I have to hide myself in order to get on. We should not be a society that accepts that.’
Mr Basu told The Guardian: ‘Nothing I am saying remotely excuses these heinous acts of criminal violence.
‘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.
‘I want good academics, good sociologists, good criminologists … to be telling us exactly why that is.’
The potential next head of the Metropolitan Police said there were common themes in the lives of people considered more ‘malleable’ to terrorist recruitment, from ‘high anxiety’ to a ‘lack of confidence’.
He urged that the government must grapple with ‘education, access to health, not disproportionate outcomes in criminal justice, feeling like you’ve got an opportunity to get on in life’.
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 also revealed number of counter terrorism operations rose by 50 per cent from 2015 to 2017 and have since stayed at a high level.
Despite Isis losing territory in Iraq and Syria, the terror threat in the UK is still severe, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’.
Mr Basu has previously been known to make controversial comments, including threatening to prosecute journalists for publishing leaked cables written by British ambassador Sir Kim Darroch.
The leaked documents revealed how Sir Kim, the UK’s man in Washington, called US president Donald Trump ‘inept’, ‘insecure’ and ‘incompetent’.
But Mr Basu provoked anger by suggesting he could prosecute publications that print more information from the documents.
His comments that publication could be a ‘criminal matter’ triggered an extraordinary row over the freedom of the press, with Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt leading the outrage.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock called on the police to withdraw Mr Basu’s statement while former Chancellor George Osborne branded the comments ‘very stupid and ill-advised.’ Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said ‘the police do not tell newspaper editors what to write’.
In response to the growing furore, Mr Basu released a further statement in which he doubled down on his threat.
While he admitted that the police ‘respect the rights of the media and has no intention of seeking to prevent editors from publishing stories in the public interest in a liberal democracy.’
He also insisted that a prosecution of a publisher could still be launched because ‘publication of these specific documents, now knowing they may be a breach of the Act, could also constitute a criminal offence and one that carries no public interest defence.’