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TEXT-London police chief on UK attacks, resources and the evolving threat
June 10, 2017 / 1:15 PM / 5 months ago

TEXT-London police chief on UK attacks, resources and the evolving threat

LONDON, June 10 (Reuters) - The following are comments by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick about how police are dealing with the threat to the United Kingdom.

Dick spoke in an interview with Reuters. Following are the highlights:

Q. Is London safe?

”I know people will be concerned about what’s happened in the UK over the past 12 weeks including the two ghastly attacks in London, but London is a wonderful international city and we attract visitors from all over the world all the time and we love it because it is so diverse. London is open. People are going about their business.

”London is a safe city and we will do everything we can in our power to keep you safe.

“We won’t let them win and London will carry on.”

Q. How can the police and security services defend against what Prime Minister Theresa May has called a new breed of crude copycat militants?

”This threat that we now face is a global phenomenon and in this respect London is similar to other cities in the Western world. Sadly we have seen such attacks elsewhere. We need to continue to learn and adapt as a nation and indeed as a police service.

”But some of the things that we have always done are very important in this situation. We have excellent relationships with our communities and we need people to give us information more than they ever have done.

”We have a fantastic relationship with the intelligence agencies and a great ability to analyse intelligence. We need to do that ever more and ever better.

“We need people to be really alert. As an example in this particular attack, we know that the attackers hired a vehicle that very day. So we need, for example, people who are hiring vans and lorries out to just think about who these people are and if you have any concerns at all to contact us on the anti-terrorist hotline.”

Q. In the London Bridge attack, armed police shot dead the three attackers just eight minutes after the first phone call from the public. How prepared are the police?

”Ever since the appalling attacks in Mumbai there have been other similar, what we would call, marauding terrorist attacks, we have tried to build up our capability, skill and understanding of how to tackle them.

“At any one time we have a large number of highly trained specialist firearms officers who are very mobile and strategically placed. They are able to respond exceptionally quickly and with great professionalism and efficiency and as you saw there with great courage.”

Q. Can we expect more such attacks and how is it possible to defend against such crude attacks?

”We have been doing everything we can to find out who was behind these attacks. We believe that those three people planned and executed the attack. We are still investigating to find out whether anyone else knew about it or supported it in any way.

“We are highly effective at preventing attacks in this country and we will step up a gear and do our level best to stop any further attacks. But as you point out, highly volatile people who are intent on doing something absolutely terrible and who are quite happy - maybe even pleased - to kill themselves and to use a low tech methods - these are difficult things to defend against.”

Q. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on London Bridge, so is this a domestic or international threat?

”My observation is that in relation to the threat that we have been facing most recently and the attacks that have been successful and those that have been unsuccessful, the majority of them have a domestic focus if I can put it that way, a domestic centre of gravity. However there are international connections and links in many of them.

On the Islamic State claim:

“This is quite common. On occasion Daesh [Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State] and other organisations will claim responsibility when long and careful investigations by intelligence agencies here and overseas and a sober assessment would subsequently say actually ‘not at all’. But it may be that some individuals who were not directed, not trained by an overseas organisation have of course been inspired by them.”

Q. Does the Metropolitan Police need more resources?

”I agree with the Prime Minister [Theresa May] when she said that we do need to review across the board how we are tackling terrorism, in terms of our powers, in terms of how we are working with our communities and what is happening in our communities, in terms of the internet, in terms of our equipment, in terms of our computers and so forth.

”I am quite confident that we will be reviewing our resources and I am expecting to have conversations with colleagues across the police service about what we think we need to face this changing and emerging threat. And we will of course be talking to government.

”I am quite sure that I will be saying that I can lead a police service which in the future can make even further savings as we have all had to do but that we will want more resources to help us and I am sure the same will be being said in the intelligence agencies.

“I am not going to put a quantum on it. I think it would be ridiculous to just pluck a figure out of the air or to say I need more of this or that. But obviously we will be reviewing, for example the number of armed officers we have and how they work, and a whole host of other things that is likely, from my point of view, to take more resources and I will be asking for them.” (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Kate Holton)

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