Government must take practical steps to stop this happening again
The attack on a concert hall full of mostly teenagers is terrorism at its most evil. As we mourn the dead and begin the process of remembrance by celebrating the lives they led, we also have to think about how we can stop this from happening again.
From my time on the Metropolitan Police Authority I learned three things:
1. Community intelligence is crucial. The police need a flow of information in order to do their job and keep us safe. That requires community engagement and trust. It also needs adequate resources and as one of the winners of a community policing awards recently told Theresa May, ‘you have cut the police officers and the information has dried up’.
2. The Prevent Strategy is also under-resourced (a mere one per cent of the £3bn counter-terrorism budget) and is mistrusted by some sections of the communities that we most need to engage with. If Prevent has become damaged goods and unfit for purpose, then it must be immediately reviewed and replaced with something that everyone can support.
3. The intelligence services need to be good at prioritising information and the people to watch. Again, this is a question of resources. Despite the restrictions I have just mentioned, the Manchester bomber was known to the security services and five different warnings about him were passed to the authorities. The reasons for this being ignored will have to be explored in depth by the new Home Secretary.
However, it is also clear that the targeting of environmentalists, green politicians and journalists by the security services is the wrong priority and must stop immediately. The refusal of the Conservatives to ensure that the security services stay focused on stopping terrorism is hindering the fight.
We need to elect a government who will stop the police from harassing local people who don’t like fracking and to spend their time instead chasing the real bad guys who kill and maim.
Jenny Jones is a Green Party peer and a former London Assembly Member
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