Home Secretary Amber Rudd has given the following statement in reaction to the Westminster attack.
A fact sheet outlining the government's approach to Counter Terrorism is also contained at the bottom of this post.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:
We do not yet know the full impact of this terrible incident. But I know that the whole country will be thinking and praying for those who are affected, as I am.
I want to thank the emergency services for the quick response and pay tribute to their bravery, their courage and their professionalism.
I have been briefed by the Met Police and by the security services and the Security Minister has also been updated. This is an ongoing incident and the Government will continue to be updated.
The Prime Minister will chair COBR today.
The Government’s top priority is the security of its people and I urge everyone to remain calm but to be vigilant and if they see anything they are concerned about they should report it to the police.
We have the best police, the best security services in the world and we must make sure that we let them get on with doing their job.
The British people will be united in working together to defeat those who would harm our shared values. Values of democracy, tolerance and the rule of law. Values symbolised by the Houses of Parliament. Values that will never be destroyed.
Fact sheet: Counter Terrorism
The terrorist threat to the UK
The threat from international terrorism in 2017 is SEVERE, meaning a terrorist attack in the UK is considered highly likely. The threat level was raised in August 2014.
There has been an escalation in terrorist attacks around the world and we have seen terrorist attacks on our doorstep in France, Belgium and Germany. In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of attack plans targeting the UK. Since June 2013, 13 potential terror attacks on the UK have been prevented.
However, as a result of the work of our security and intelligence agencies and the police, successful attacks in the UK by Islamist terrorists have been thankfully rare in the past five years.
The most significant development over the last five years has been the rise of Daesh and their new levels of brutality and inhumanity. Most of Daesh’s victims have been Muslims.
As Daesh loses ground militarily in Syria and Iraq, thanks to the global coalition of nations including the UK, we face the challenge of potential returning foreign fighters and so-called ‘lone wolf’ attacks in the West. Meanwhile Al Qa’ida and its affiliates remain serious terrorist organisations.
But the threat does not just come from Islamist extremists. We face a growing threat of violence and terrorism from groups and individuals associated with the far and extreme right wing. And despite the political progress in Northern Ireland some dissident republican terrorist groups continue to carry out terrorist attacks.
We have also seen terrorists adapt and adopt technology to further their aims – for example exploiting encryption to hide attack planning, using the internet and social media to distribute propaganda and spread their warped ideology.
Government counter-terrorism strategy
The UK’s comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy is known as CONTEST.
The aim of CONTEST is to reduce the risk to the UK and its citizens and interests overseas from terrorism, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence. The CONTEST strategy is designed to counter all forms of terrorism and enables us to adapt our priorities and capabilities as risks and opportunities evolve.
The strategy uses a “4P” approach to reducing overall risk by:
- reducing potential intent through Prevent;
- reducing the capability of terrorists through Pursue;
- reducing our vulnerability to terrorist attacks through Protect;
- and reducing the impact of terrorist attacks that we do not prevent through Prepare.
We have undertaken a thorough review of our strategy to make sure our priorities and capabilities meet today’s threats and are also flexible enough to meet potential new challenges over the coming years.
The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 provides law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies with the powers they need, subject to strict safeguards and world-leading oversight.
The Home Secretary proscribed National Action on 16 December 2016, the first extreme right wing group to have been proscribed.
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 introduced a range of measures to disrupt the travel of foreign fighters to and from the conflict area; and to improve our ability to manage them on their return.
Government extended the remit of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament through the Justice and Security Act 2013 which strengthened its oversight of the Security and Intelligence Agencies and clarified its independence
The Government has continued to strengthen border and aviation security, both in the UK and overseas
The Government introduced the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme to improve emergency service cooperation after major incidents. We have continued to build on the original programme to improve our multi-agency response through joint training and exercising.
We have longstanding specialist capabilities to respond to the highest impact terrorist risks, such as chemical biological, radiological or nuclear attacks. Following the attacks in Paris, we took the decision to provide £143m over the next five years to uplift our armed policing capability, to respond more quickly and effectively to a firearms attack.
In 2015, we established arrangements for the Armed Forces to provide support in the event of a large scale UK terrorist attack. If needed, up to 10,000 military personnel, supported by military experts, are on standby to support the civil authorities.
Key facts and stats
- At the Spending Review in 2015, the Chancellor announced that cross-government spending on Counter-Terrorism would be increased by 30%. This increased CT spending from £11.7bn over five years to £15.1bn over the same period.
- Much of the work being done in the UK is world-leading - including the first Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit dedicated to taking down online extremist and terrorist content. Since it was established in February 2010 CITRU referrals have led to the removal of over 250,000 pieces of harmful terrorist and extremist content by companies and the current rate of removal is approximately 2,000 per week. This model has now been replicated internationally.
- Through our Prevent programme we have safeguarded thousands of people in the UK from being targeted by extremists and terrorist recruiters. Since 2012, over 1,000 people have voluntarily received support through the Channel programme, part of Prevent. .
- We have prevented over 150 journeys being made to conflict zones in 2015, including 50 children.