Lincolnshire Talks: How can we stop terrorist attacks in our own country?

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The UK has suffered three appalling terrorist atrocities in as many months, with many people now feeling nervous and unsafe. But how can we stop terrorist attacks happening here and are we at risk in Lincolnshire?

The savage and futile acts of terror began on March 22, when 52-year-old Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing five people and attempted to break into the Houses of Parliament.

Masood was shot dead by armed police but not before he had killed unarmed officer PC Keith Palmer.

Two months later on May 22, suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people, including an eight-year-old girl, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.

This was the worst terrorist attack in the UK in terms of fatalities since 52 people died in the London 7/7 bombings in July 2005.

Under two weeks later, on June 3, seven more people were killed when three men drove a van at pedestrians on London Bridge before getting out of the vehicle and attacking many more innocent men and women enjoying a Saturday night out in the capital.

All the suspects were shot dead at the scene within minutes.

Counter-terrorism strategies in place now

University of Lincoln criminology lecturer, Joshua Skoczylis spoke Lincolnshire Reporter about the UK government’s counter-terrorism strategy called CONTEST.

The strategy has four key sections: Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare.

Pursue focuses on how security services, police and courts foil terrorist attacks, investigate ongoing threats and bring people to justice.

Prevent, as the name suggests, is about preventing at risk individuals and groups from being radicalised.

Protect includes putting appropriate security in place, such as armed police patrols and designing buildings with the threat of terrorism in mind.

Prepare is how authorities respond to terrorist attacks and having emergency plans in place.

Dr Skoczylis said: “Overall, these measures are a comprehensive approach to counter-terrorism, a model which incidentally has been adopted by countries around the world.

“Some incidents will still occur, but the police, the security services and other relevant authorities are working hard to limit the threat and respond appropriately when needed.”

Police cuts have impacted counter-terrorism

Dr Skoczylis also said that cuts in police numbers by 20,000 have had a knock-on effect on counter-terrorism policing.

He said: “The cuts pushed through by Theresa May and the previous Conservative government have had an impact on counter-terrorism policing by reducing back-end staff and neighbourhood policing.

“These form a crucial part of counter-terrorism as they provide the link between communities and the police by building trust.

“This trust has been undermined and/or community relationship been neglected as neighbourhood policing has been reprioritised.”

Is Lincolnshire a target for terrorists?

Thankfully, there have been no terrorist attacks in Lincolnshire, and any such attacks are thought to be unlikely as Islamic State has targeted some of the Europe’s biggest cities in Paris, London and Brussels.

Dr Skoczylis added: “The threat of terrorism in Lincolnshire is very low, but of course anyone who sees anything suspicious should report this.

“In Lincolnshire far-right extremism is possibly a greater issue, but generally related instances are not reported as acts of terrorism by the government and the media.

“The UK generally remains very safe and you will be at a much greater risk of being killed in a car accident.

“Following on from this, it is important people continue to live their lives as normally as possible.

“We cannot give in to these forms of intimidation.”

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing [email protected]

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