Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said there must be no “safe spaces” for terror suspects anywhere, at home or abroad.
In his first speech on security since replacing Amber Rudd, Mr Javid said there had been a “step change” in the threat to the UK, with 25 “Islamist-linked” plots foiled in the last five years and four extreme right plots stopped since March 2017.
To counter this, he called for increased – and faster – sharing of information between security services and the police as well as local authorities and other public agencies such as the Probation Service, the Charity Commission and the Communities department.
Javid 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.”
The security services currently hold information on around 20,000 people labelled “closed subjects of concern” who have previously been investigated and it is believed could pose a threat in the future.
Mr Javid said there must be “no safe spaces in the UK for terrorists to spread their vile views, or for them to plan and carry out attacks and no safe spaces online for terrorist propaganda and technical expertise to be shared, and for people to be radicalised in a matter of weeks”.
Other proposals include increasing maximum sentences for some offences and enhancing the use of data to track terrorism suspects.
It emerged over the weekend that security services expect the threat from Islamist terror to remain at its current heightened level of “severe” for at least another two years, while they assess that the risk from extreme right-wing terrorism as increasing.
Javid also launched a defence of the controversial Prevent counter-terror strategy, saying the government, local authorities, police and communities will continue to safeguard and support vulnerable people from the risk of being drawn into terrorism, working with a wide network of partners to prevent radicalisation and build resilience.