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Our brave police risk their lives to keep us safe, but they can't prevent every attack

In The News, 23 March 2017
UK Counter-terrorism, Terrorism
"It is a time to stop and reflect upon the bravery of our police and to support the men and women who put themselves in harms way to keep us all safe."

Our brave police risk their lives to keep us safe, but they can't prevent every attack

The attack in London on Wednesday shocked even the most experienced counter-terrorism officers. You always know the stakes are high, you know that many innocent people will be killed if an attack gets through and you work tirelessly to prevent it.

It is still deeply shocking when it happens. As the head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, I oversaw our response to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. His killers had previously been deemed to be low-level extremists who were not an imminent threat. Theresa May has revealed that the attacker at Parliament Square had similarly been viewed as a “peripheral figure” by MI5. But that does not mean police and intelligence agencies took their eye off the ball.

Counter-terrorism officers can have as many as 40 investigations running at any one time, and this means they have to prioritise who to watch. It is not an exact science assessing which extremists pose the greatest threat.

Police officers responded to the attack on Parliament with the utmost professionalism, as they have trained intensively for such situations. Pc Keith Palmer did his duty and the Met can be proud of the calm way he and the force responded.

In The News

Richard Walton
Distinguished Fellow

Richard Walton is a former Commander at New Scotland Yard, was Head of the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) between 2011-2016 and spent... read more