MI5 agents to take lead in fight against far-right extremism for first time

Police will remain in charge of disrupting plots and making arrests

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 29 October 2018 17:39
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Far-right terrorist Darren Osborne was jailed for life after ploughing a van into Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park, killing one victim and injuring several others
Far-right terrorist Darren Osborne was jailed for life after ploughing a van into Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park, killing one victim and injuring several others

MI5 is to take the lead in combating far-right terrorism amid growing concerns about the threat posed by white supremacists.

While the security services are currently responsible for Islamist terrorism and terror related to Northern Ireland, the police have – until now – taken the lead in monitoring extreme right-wing activity.

The change will see MI5 become responsible for identifying suspects and determining the threat they pose, but police will remain in charge of disrupting plots and making arrests.

The Independent put the story – first reported by The Guardian – to the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police, but both declined to comment

Last week it emerged there were 700 live terror investigations in the UK, a record number, of which 100 were related to far-right extremism. Four alleged far-right plots have been foiled in the UK since March 2017.

Revealing the figures to the home affairs committee, Metropolitan assistant commissioner Neil Basu warned far-right activity across Europe was rising, claiming Islamist extremism and white supremacist extremism were “feeding” each other.

The UK’s counterterror capability was running “red-hot” because of the increase in plots, the majority of which come from UK nationals or dual British citizens, he said.

“I’d like to tell you that we are matched to the current threat, but the reality is that we are not,” he said.

“Matching the new threat, including now extreme right-wing terrorism and hostile state activity requires a new way of working and to maintain our current resources.”

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He called for the government to offer a long-term funding settlement rather than the current short-term arrangements.

Mr Basu described the amount of religiously aggravated hate crime in the UK, which has jumped 40 per cent in a single year in England and Wales, as a “proxy measure” for measuring the terrorism threat.

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