UK Terrorism Threat Level - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:41 pm on 10th November 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department 1:41 pm, 10th November 2020

My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for their comments and questions. I join them in expressing solidarity with France and Vienna in the tough times they have had, as well our sympathies with the families affected. I echo the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, in paying tribute to Rabbi Sacks, who was a great asset to this House and who always spoke with such wisdom on these matters.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked how the raised threat level would affect daily life. This matter is under continuous operational review by JTAC. Deployments of police in certain areas of our daily lives will be changed according to threats. In terms of the resources needed, my predecessor—way back when—the right honourable Sajid Javid recognised the changing demand on the police. Under his successor, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, the 20,000 police officer uplift was made; it was, in fact, a manifesto commitment. I understand that we are almost at the 6,000 level. The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked about the number of PCSOs. I do not know exactly how many we have in this country. That is a matter for local forces and chief constables, in collaboration with their PCCs. The number is decided according to the needs of the local area. However, I will try and get that number, if it is available. He asked for some other details, which I shall also try to get for him.

Both noble Lords asked where the additional resources would come from when the threat level went up. Deployment will be a matter for operational decision. Of course we recognise that additional police demand is there. Both noble Lords mentioned crisis. Police grant can be applied for and, no matter what it is for, it will be given if the case is made.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked if the threat was UK-wide. Yes, it is. There is separate consideration for Northern Ireland in relation to threats within it. He asked about the Prevent review. We are in the final stages of interviewing for our independent reviewer of Prevent and it is anticipated that the review will be done promptly. I deliberately did not give a timescale because we did not want to be where were last time, with the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, having to step away. We did not want to create too much time pressure.

The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, also talked about international co-operation and what more we can do. He and the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, will know that, particularly in relation to the EU, we remain absolutely committed to that co-operation on law enforcement.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, outlined the necessity for free speech but with limits, of course. If it impinges on the threat to the individual, it crosses the line. He talked about terrorist and extremists’ use of the internet. I could not agree with him more. I hope that the online harms White Paper will become a Bill very soon and deal with some of those issues, particularly the duty on internet providers to their users. He also asked which places had benefited from protective security. He will know that I cannot talk about that, for the benefit of those places. He mentioned the police having to do their day job and police numbers. I hope that I went through that in sufficient detail but I will top it up with additional information for him.