During Home Office questions my colleague Yvette Cooper MP asked the Home Secretary how many police officers would be recruited to increase our ability to tackle extremists and their terrorist activities. No answer was forthcoming so I used my question to ask the Home Secretary once more how many officers would be employed and when.
Not only did the Government frontbench feel that it was appropriate to snort at the call for more police the Home Secretary said it wasn’t the most important aspect of tackling terrorism. As a former Security and Policing Minister I can tell you that the number of bobbies on the beat in communities really does make a difference.
It is also important to remember that when the Home Secretary was running for leadership of the Tories he pledged to recruit another 20,000 officers. Miraculously now that he is no longer a candidate for the leadership he has forgotten this pledge despite the fact he occupies the one job in government where he could recruit more police.
The Home Secretary made a statement to Parliament today which detailed how the UK Government would increase funding for the places of worship fund, including a £5m fund to provide security training. Established in 2016, the places of worship fund aims to help fight hate crime, and provide support and equipment so places of worship can operate safely.
I wanted the Home Secretary to provide more information on how police would be supported in their prevention strategies and how the Counter Terrorism teams would be given the powers they need to tackle closed social media groups.
The rise of far right terrorism across Europe is deeply worrying and we should be doing all we can to bring it to an end. The Home Office has cut 21,000 police officers from our streets, and although this funding is welcomed, they must rebuild our intelligence led policing capacity.
The tragic and mindless killings by a fascist far-right terrorist in New Zealand last week has brought much sorrow. The Commons held an Urgent Question to ensure that our government is doing all it can to support our long standing ally New Zealand.
I used this opportunity to raise my hopes that the UK’s current chairing of the Commonwealth Heads of Government will be used to work with all members to ensure we put pressure on companies such as Facebook and Google to take down any terrorist propaganda or heinous videos.
I was pleased that the Minister took my question to heart and will be investigating how he can achieve this goal.
Last weekend, there was a car bombing in Londonderry/Derry. This should remind us all that the peace in Northern Ireland is fragile and it will take all communities to come together to ensure that people can live secure and peaceful lives.
The Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI stated that this was an attack by the New IRA and I wanted assurances that they are a prescribed organisation. I was pleased that the Secretary of State could confirm this as prescribing a group means that more tools are available to the police and security services to track down those wishing to harm civilians.