David Cameron to recruit 2,000 new spies amid claims UK foiled seven terror attacks in six months

Nearly 2,000 spies will be recruited by Britain's intelligence agencies and spending on airport security will be doubled

Matt Dathan
Online political reporter
Monday 16 November 2015 09:48 GMT
Listen - David Cameron says 7 terrorist attacks have been thwarted in the last 6 months

Seven terrorist attacks have been thwarted in the last six months David Cameron has revealed as he announced plans to recruit of nearly 2,000 new spies.

He warned that the deadly terrorist attacks that hit Paris on Friday night, killing 129 people, "could happen here" and Britain faced a continued threat by Isis.

The Prime Minister responded to the Paris attacks by announcing a 15 per cent increase in the security and intelligence staff at M15, MI6 and GCHQ and doubling the spending on security at airports across the UK.

He said the terror spree in the French capital "was the sort of thing we warned about" in planning with the security services but such atrocities meant "you have to go right back to the drawing board" to work out what more steps needed to be taken.

He also hinted that the Government could speed up the passage of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which will give the security agencies new spying powers.

"We should look at the timetable; we do need to take Parliament and people with us,” Mr Cameron told the Today programme.

Explaining the extent of the threat posed by Isis, Mr Cameron said: “We have been aware of these cells operating in Syria that are radicalising people in our own countries, potentially sending people back to carry out attacks.

"Our security and intelligence services have stopped something like seven attacks in the last six months, albeit attacks planned on a smaller scale."

President Francois Hollande declared Friday's attacks in Paris as an "act of war". Mr Cameron, asked whether Britain was "at war" with Isis, stopped short of using the same words but said the UK stood in "total solidarity" with France and would do "everything we can" to defeat the "disease of Islamist extremism".

The increase in national security provisions, announced on Monday morning, are part of the five-year defence and security review, which will be unveiled in full next week.

Announcing the boost in spying staff, which will see the total number working at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ increase from around 12,700 to 14,600, Mr Cameron said: "Our intelligence agencies work round the clock behind the scenes and as the threat has grown so they too have risen to the challenge.

"Much of what they do cannot be seen by us or talked about but their courageous and determined efforts allow us to go about our daily life.

“This is a generational struggle that demands we provide more manpower to combat those who would destroy us and our values."

The attacks in Paris proved why Britain's security agencies needed the powers set out in the Investigatory Powers Bill so urgently, Mr Cameron added.

He said: "This disease of Islamist extremist violence, this perversion of the religion, of the religion of Islam that is being carried out by this minority of a minority as it were, this is a challenge we are going to have to face with everything we have got.

"Now that means investing in the hard power of our military, because that can be important, it means boosting our counter-terrorism capabilities, and we should think absolutely, the bill we are taking through parliament to strengthen our capabilities to intercept the communications of terrorists is a vital part of this fight...

"Remember this is about maintaining our capabilities and putting everything on a very clear statutory footing."

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