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What is the Future of British Counter-Terrorism Policy?
By James Levinson
Sweeping changes are likely to come in Britain’s policy toward terrorism and extremism after Prime Minister Theresa May declared that “enough is enough” during a speech outside of 10 Downing Street on Sunday. The speech was prompted after another attack on Saturday night at the London Bridge where a white van struck pedestrians in a coordinated attack that killed seven and injured dozens that was later claimed by ISIS.
This is the third major attack that has occurred in Britain this year including a terror attack on Westminister Bridge that occurred in March and the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May.
In her speech, May responded with the introduction of a new four-point plan toward combating the “new trend” of ideological extremism. While the plan presented was broad and skimmed on policy specifics that might be introduced, it was indicative of the direction of counter-terrorism policy in Britain.
Defeating the Extremist Ideology
In her remarks, May recognized that while the attacks were not committed by the same organizations, they were all committed in the sense of a singular ideology. Her conclusion is that terrorism can only be defeated by changing the mindset of those vulnerable to violence, and to have them embrace British values.
This could mean that there could be a further expansion of the Prevent Strategy, a measure of the UK counter-terrorism system that aims to stop people from becoming or supporting terrorist and terror organizations.
Prevent was originally created in response to the London attacks in 2005 and aimed to support organizations that would improve integration of minority groups. But in 2011, under then-Home Secretary May, the program was revamped to focus on terrorism and training public officials to spot radicalism.
Prevent has shown success: data from 2015 shows the amount of people who traveled to Syria and Iraq from Britain has decreased. But the program has its critics who believe that it will naturally lead to more discrimination toward Islamic groups.