Thursday, April 27, 2017

Terror arrest near Houses of Parliament, armed man carrying several knives arrested due to an intelligence-led operation, the big question which many people will want an answer to is why someone who is known to Police is able to walk around armed and get so close to Westminster, will new laws be needed in the next parliament?

Dear All

Yet again, in London there has been another incident which some people are calling a ‘terror arrest’ near Houses of Parliament. In a previous attack, 5 people lost their lives, one of whom was a serving police officer. The latest arrest is a concern as police detained a man as part of an intelligence-led operation. This raises some interesting questions, in regards to people suspect of being possibly active in terrorism. The biggest one being why such people just free to roam about the place when they are considered such a threat?

Today’s arrest of the person was on suspicion of terrorism offences, the knives he was carrying although they would be lethal were just ordinary kitchen knives, this tends to suggest the man wasn’t trained and was more likely an amateur. You can get killed with a large bread knife however because of the lack of a hilt, a person’s hands could just as easy slide forward and they might end up cutting themselves.

As someone who has been a victim of knife crime, I know how quickly a huge amount of damage can be done in a relatively short time. Being stabbed produces a whole lot of blood which if not stopped very quickly can lead to serious problems and possible death.

In this case the man carrying knives near the Houses of Parliament was wrestled to the ground by armed police and no one got hurt. The officers acted very bravely in tackling an armed man and such situations are very high pressure and stressful, this operation was a success.

A police statement said:

“The man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. Knives have been recovered from him. Detectives from the counter-terrorism command are continuing their investigation, and as a result of this arrest there is no immediate known threat.”

When arrested an eyewitness said that the man apparently was “very calm”, I assume given the speed of the police arrest operation, he may have been taken totally by surprise. Witnesses say the man was not shouting, or acting aggressively however if he had been taken when he was, one wonders what his plans actually were. Given the previous terrorist incident, it was incredibly stupid to go walking about the place carrying knives especially in a high security area like Westminster which is covered by CCTV, armed police at the Commons and roaming armed units.

Although the man is said to be a British passport holder, the press have commented that he was born in the UK, obviously more details about him and his past will emerge.

One thing which will be reviewed in light of this incident is whether current security measures are robust enough around Westminster. Given the number of government buildings and their staff, they must wonder if this is part of a campaign or just someone acting randomly. Awhile ago on the blog, some of the things I thought might happen appeared to have done so, like the use of vehicles as weapons and the targeting of politicians. Open access to politicians has always been consider normal as constituents go see their MPs, however in the past there have been attacks, so it would seem logical that within the parliamentary allowances that it may be deemed necessary for the employment of a security officer for MPs Offices.

The BBC's home affairs correspondent June Kelly said:

“It's understood that the man was detained as part of an ongoing operation by Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command. Officers working on intelligence moved in on him in Whitehall. He was then searched and arrested.”

I would suspect that many people will be shocked that the suspect arrested today had been under surveillance for some time. It maybe the case that new legislation is needed so such people can be tagged so that their movements can be tracked by GPS, but this is a stop gap measure. I suspect that down the line government policy will be such that people who gain British Citizenship who aren’t born here will end up facing withdrawal of such citizenship and be deported back to their home country.

Finally, no one died today, but as we have seen previously we cannot always expect the Police to be there in time to save the day, that just isn’t possible. It maybe in the next parliament there will need to be a Bill which seeks to address the issue of people suspected of being involved in terrorism just being able to walk around, something which goes beyond current measures.

What that maybe be will be the subject of long discussions between Ministers because we know we have a serious problem.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Anonymous said...

great article George

Al C said...

If this becomes as regular as it is in France, then I suspect we'll be seeing a much more hard nosed approach backed by the public.