Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Manningham-Buller Baroness Manningham-Buller Crossbench 5:30 pm, 12th November 2018

My Lords, I will comment briefly on this important subject. I was the director-general of MI5 in 2003 when we produced the terrorism strategy. At that stage, it was not public. Of the four Ps—Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare—Prevent was the one on which we spent the most time. We did not feel qualified to be very helpful on it, although we had established a behavioural science unit in the service to look at why people were drawn into this course.

Whatever the criticism, it seemed noble to go back to what was causing some of this, to stop young people in particular being groomed into the profession of terrorism. If through this channel we have saved a number of young people from that route and diverted them into other, productive lives, that is a very valuable achievement. I note that a substantial number of people who are now in this process are being seduced and drawn into extreme right-wing activity. Again, if we can divert some of those—largely young—people from that course, it is right.

That is not to say that all these things cannot be done better. I do not know about that; I do not have the insight of my noble friend Lord Carlile. However, I know that of the four Ps, Prevent is the most difficult one. It is challenging but, since it was initiated in 2003, a great deal of progress has been made in refining and improving it.