UK to expand police and MI5 counter-terrorism powers

Britain to recruit more than 1,900 new staff to beef up security services

epa06369453 (FILE) - British police on dutyl during a vigil for the victims of the London Bridge terror attacks by the City Hall in London, Britain, 05 June 2017, (reissued 05 December 2017). Media reports on 05 December 2017 state that the report by David Anderson QC, a former terrorism law reviewer asked by the British Home Secretary to audit internal MI5 and police reviews, is published on 05 December 2017. The terror attacks in 2017 - at Manchester Arena, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Westminster - has placed the spotlight on the British security services. The British internal security service MI5 and police launched internal reviews following the atrocities between March and June 2017 and the findings of the reviews looking at intelligence handling by the organisations are to be seen in the review published by the  Home Secretary.  EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA *** Local Caption *** 53568746

MI5 and British police will reportedly get new powers to inform government officials about possible terrorist suspects before they are deemed dangerous enough to be under MI5 surveillance in an effort to stop attacks before the plans are finalised.

Security services will be granted the power under legislation being considered by the Home Office, The Sunday Times reported citing leaked government documents.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is also considering longer prison terms for convicted terrorists and improving the detection of terrorist activity involving chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive material in the wake of the Salisbury, England poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

The newspaper says that more than 1,900 new staff will be recruited to beef up British security services under the plan.

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In a move that could prove controversial, the strategy calls for more attention on “communities where the threat from terrorism and radicalisation is highest”, the newspaper reported. The government’s existing Prevent strategy has come under fire for focusing on young Muslims at risk of extremism.

The new powers are outlined in a 120-page draft counter-terrorism strategy due to be published in weeks, the newspaper reported citing leaked documents.

The documents also reveal that the UK considers ISIS a "significant" threat and Al Qaeda a "persistent threat". Northern Irish terrorism is now considered a "serious threat" and far-right extremists are a "growing threat".

The changes are being considered after mistakes allowed terrorists to commit attacks that killed 35 people in Manchester, at London Bridge and at Westminster in 2017.

Three of the five terrorists involved in the plots were among 23,000 extremists already known to security services. Only one was under active investigation by MI5 at the time of the attack however.

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