UK's New Counter-Terrorism Strategy 🕵️

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

A tumultuous year in terrorism

In the past year, Britain has been victim to multiple terrorist attacks including the Manchester Arena bombing and the London Bridge attack. Adding to the list of foiled terror plots was the recent conviction of Safaa Balour, an 18 year-old-girl who planned an attack on the British Museum with her mother and older sister. To top it all off, 40% percent of individuals convicted of terrorist offenses in the UK will be released by the end of the year, sparking new concerns about national security.

Will it ever end?

Following the one-year anniversary of the London Bridge attack, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid launched CONTEST, an overhaul of Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy. CONTEST allows the government to intervene in suspicious activity at an earlier stage by giving authorities expanded access to suspected terrorists’ biographical information. The program also hopes to encourage big and local businesses to report large purchases of dangerous materials and encourage anyone from social workers to teachers to cite suspicious behavior.

Those who view CONTEST as a means to secure the safety of British citizens validate Javid’s efforts to utilize businesses to report on potential terror activity. They believe information sharing and early intervention is a necessity, given that the terrorist threat lies from suspects who are radicalized to the point of violence. A grassroots approach will help identify threats and prevent radicalization. These articles also disapprove of the EU’s decision to weaken security cooperation with Britain.

Those who view CONTEST as a threat to individual liberties raise flaws within Javid’s strategy, such as false or improper classification of who is a “suspect”. They believe CONTEST brings Britain closer to an authoritarian state fueled by fear of one another. In their opinion, the government is being granted new powers at the expense of freedom and civil liberties. Aka spying on the people. However, these articles commend Javid’s commitment to foil plots from the roots.

What does this mean for the future of Britain?

CONTEST has elicited a fair amount of opposition, primarily from the Labour party, concerning infringements on civil liberties. However, given the public fear of terrorism and the recent foiling of Safaa Balour’s plot, public consent to Javid’s program may be realistic. The state of Britain and CONTEST may, in fact, find itself to be in a similar situation as the United States and the Patriot Act following the 9/11 attacks, as well as the all-too-familiar slogan of “See Something, Say Something”.

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