Birmingham Council to join MI5 and police in fight against terrorism

A new anti-terrorism partnership involving local councils, MI5 and police will be created in the West Midlands, says Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Birmingham City Council will be asked to work closely with police and the MI5 to fight terrorism, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced.

The West Midlands will create one of three new anti-terror partnerships designed to step up the fight against violent extremism. The others are in London and Greater Manchester.

It follows warnings that parts of the West Midlands, and the Birmingham wards of Springfield, Sparkhill, Hall Green and Hodge Hill in particular, have been home to a high proportion of convicted terrorists.

The new "multi-agency approach" involves the security services, known as MI5, and the police using and sharing information more widely, working with partners such as local authorities to improve their understanding of people who could become involved in terrorism.

The idea is that this will enable authorities to take action faster.

Launching a new anti-terrorism plan, Mr Javid, the MP for Bromsgrove, said police and security services are currently watching "3,000 subjects of interest".

And they had stopped 25 Islamist-linked plots in the past five years, he said.

"We could have seen one attack every two months", Mr Javid warned.

But he also said there was a threat from far-right groups.

It follows an attack by a right-wing extremist at a mosque in Finsbury Park, and the murder of MP Jo Cox.

Referring to the Westminster terrorist attack in March 2017, Mr Javid said: "Four extreme right wing plots have been foiled since the Westminster attack"

Measures in the anti-terror strategy include:

  • Security services to intervene more quickly in terror plots. Longer prison sentenced and better management of terrorist offenders.

  • UK to work closely with international partners

  • The Government to work more closely with the private sector on a range of issues including protecting economic and physical infrastructure, gaining faster alerts to suspicious purchases and continuing to make it difficult for terrorists to use the internet for propaganda.

  • Continuing with the Prevent strategy, which aims to identify people at risk of becoming radicalised. Mr Javid said he acknowledged concern that this targeted Muslims but believed it was essential.

He said: "As Home Secretary my priority will always be to keep our country safe. The threat from terrorism is one of the starkest we face and it is clear there has been a step change.

“The biggest threat is from Islamist terrorism particularly from Daesh, but extreme right-wing terrorism is also an increasing threat. Both exploit grievances, distort the truth, and undermine the values that hold us together.

“As the threat evolves so must our response. Ultimately, our approach is about ensuring that there are no safe spaces for terrorists to operate - internationally, in the UK or online.

“Our greatest strength lies not only in what we do but who we are and the values and freedoms we hold dear. That is why everyone has a part to play in confronting terrorism.

"I want to say to all those who stand up against all forms of extremism that this Government stands with you. I stand with you. But there is more for us all to do.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "West Midlands Police work closely with councils and other agencies to tackle terrorism and protect the public. I welcome ever closer working and sharing of information.

"The Home Secretary is right to identify neighbourhood policing as crucial in fighting terrorism.

"With his recent change of tone on policing he needs to ensure that areas like the West Midlands are supported with the resources that they need.

"Since 2010 West Midlands Police has lost £145 million and over 2,000 officers, who played an important role keeping us all safe."