Reading Terrorist Attack - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:47 pm on 23rd June 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department 12:47 pm, 23rd June 2020

I join both noble Lords in expressing condolences to the families of those killed and in wishing a speedy recovery to those injured. I also join them in praising our emergency services, who ran towards danger to help those people whose lives were in danger, in particular the unarmed policeman who went to help. The noble Lords are both right to point out that I am very constrained in what I can say, and I thank them for understanding that constraint. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, made the point that we have the best police and security services in the world. I wholeheartedly agree, as I do on policing by consent.

Both noble Lords pointed out that this was yet another lone attack. There have been 25 terrorist attacks thwarted since 2017, which is a tribute to the police involved.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about more resources. He will have heard my right honourable friend the Home Secretary say yesterday that an additional £90 million will be in place this year for CT policing, because we need the resources in place for police to be able to respond to these dreadful events. As for other types of policing, 20,000 additional police officers are due to be recruited over the next few years. On community policing, it is the PCC who decides on the type of policing required for a particular area; it is a decision at local level, and that is absolutely right.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also asked about lessons learned from Fishmongers’ Hall and cited the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill; that is one thing. In February this year the Security Minister announced plans to introduce the legislative Protect duty. The proposals would require certain operators of public venues and organisations to consider their preparedness for and protection from a terrorist attack.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, mentioned on a couple of occasions the need for community engagement, and I could not agree more. This problem cannot be solved by any one agency or by government. As the noble Lord said, it is not just about legislation; we need interventions at all levels of society, including public vigilance and confidence in reporting to the police.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked about the Serious Violence Taskforce. In the last few months it was replaced by the National Policing Board, which is an excellent forum for these sorts of things—the interventions we can make for our communities—to be not just discussed but actioned.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked when the Government will appoint an independent reviewer of Prevent. The process is under way and we aim for that review to be complete in September next year.