Specialist police to combat race hate

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The Independent Online
A NATIONAL anti-terrorist task force is to be set up to investigate far-right and neo-Nazi organisations in the wake of the recent nail-bombing campaign against minority groups, it was disclosed last night.

A team of about 20 officers will target extremists who carry out terror campaigns through violence, intimidation or hate mail. Organisations that attempt to stir up hatred, through leaflets and magazines, will also be investigated.

The task force,to be located at the anti-terrorist branch at Scotland Yard, will also draw on officers from the football intelligence unit at the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). It will be available to support all police forces throughout England and Wales and has the backing of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

The initiative follows widespread concerns about the actions of violent extremists, who seek to attack ethnic and religious minorities and gay people. Several neo-Nazi organisations, including Combat 18, tried to claim responsibility for the recent nail-bombings against blacks, Asians and gays in London. Scotland Yard has also reported an unprecedented rise in racist intimidation since the bombs and as a backlash to the inquiry into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The new task force will have two officers from the Metropolitan Police's Special Branch, a dozen other officers, probably from the existing anti- terrorist branch, and an intelligence unit with officers from NCIS, and the Met's organised crime group. In addition, the Met's recently formed anti-racist crime unit will provide assistance

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Fry, who will oversee the squad, said: "The primary objective is to deter, disrupt and detect the criminal activities of violent extremists. The recent nail-bomb attacks in London have highlighted the need for continuing vigilance across the United Kingdom."

A Scotland Yard spokesman added: "It will target extremists, both groups and individuals, who commit or incite violent crime and those who advocate or claim such attacks."

Up to five far-right groups claimed responsibility for the nail-bomb attacks, in which three people died and more than 100 were injured, including Combat 18 and a group calling itself the English National Party. The man charged with the bombings, however, had no links with right-wing extremist groups, say the police.

John Grieve, head of the Met's racial and violent crime task force, said last night: "There's something poisonous in London which is now bubbling to the surface."