A summit of the dedicated counter-terrorism police charged with keeping Suffolk safe called by the county’s Euro MP today (Friday 20 November), has backed new proposals for European action in the fight against terrorism, exactly one week after the deadly Paris attack.
The Labour Euro MP heard from Assistant Chief Constable Jeff Hill and Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay, of the Eastern Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit.
“I was told that their awareness of the threat is increasing - both because of an increase in their awareness but also because of an increase in the threat,” Richard Howitt MEP explained afterwards.
“Several people have been stopped from travelling out to Syria and Iraq from Luton and Stansted, some have travelled back and are in our region, as are what they called ‘charismatic individuals’ - who are responsible for radicalisation.”
Commenting on the officers’ deep concerns that the level of police cuts is hampering their efforts to prevent terrorist recruitment, Richard Howitt MEP added:
“They described that the loss of community policing is leading them to become a ‘fire brigade Police Service,’ able to respond to attacks but not to prevent them.
“Community police are needed to help identify people becoming radicalised in the community, but also for the community to have confidence in police to raise their concerns, I was told.”
The Labour Euro MP discussed with the dedicated counter-terrorist team proposals to be debated in the European Parliament next week to try to prevent a repeat of the Paris attacks.
“I will be able to take with me the support of our local police for proposals to improve intelligence-sharing between European countries, to further clampdown on the availability of firearms in mainland Europe and to improve the checking of passports in other European countries against the database of terrorist suspects.”
Richard expressed his strong support for local police efforts, welcomed the excellent cooperation between British police and their Europol counterparts and was briefed on extensive efforts to make sports stadia, shopping centres and other local places where people congregate safeguarded against any possible attack.