New measures as ‘threat as great as it’s ever been’
BIRMINGHAM’S terror threat remains ‘as great as it ever has been’ it was claimed as a new UK network to combat extremism was announced this week.
City council leader Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End) revealed a lot of work had been carried out in Birmingham to plan for the eventuality of an attack on the second city, as well as work to prevent one happening in the first place.
He spoke as a two-day ‘Building Strong Cities’ conference kicked off at the council house in Victoria Square, which welcomed delegates from London, Manchester, Luton and Leicester.
Cllr threat been.
“We have done a lot of work with the National Asset Barrier to ensure that we have got protection in the city centre, particularly where there are high levels of pedestrian footfall, to ensure we are doing what we need to, to protect people.
“We’ve also done a lot of work around building our resilience and of course planning, planning for the eventuality of any attack that might come on the city.”
He added: “You go back to the Ward said: “The terror is as great as it ever has 1970s we had the Birmingham pub bombings and the aftermath of those are still going on.
“You still have families seeking answers to what happened.
“We are working closely with the police and security services making sure we are planning and looking to prevent these as best we can, but also ensuring that we do build resilience so that should something happen the city is able to respond.”
The official UK terror threat, set by M15 and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, is currently ‘severe’.
It is the fourth out of five levels and means an attack is ‘highly likely’.
Last April the threat level was raised to ‘critical’ – at risk of imminent attack – in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing which killed 22 people, and again after the Parsons Green Tube bombing which injured 51 people in September.
The conference in Birmingham was the first of its kind in the UK.
It aimed to show how councils and local authorities can be at the forefront of tackling extremism and radicalisation.
Cllr Ward said that councils had a ‘key’ role to play because of the day-to-day interaction between residents and services.
The UK network will complement the international Strong Cities Network which was launched together than 120 countries.
Cllr Ward added: “We have all suffered from atrocities in our cities. The idea of building a network is so that we can share ideas and experience, and come in 2015 bringing expertise from more cities throughout 45 together so we can build more resilient cities in the future that are better prepared for terrorist atrocities that take place.
“On a day-to-day basis that would be done by officers behind the scenes, but the idea is that the network would meet regularly, maybe twice a year, to come together to share best practice and exchange ideas about the changing nature of the threat.”
Sasha Havlicek, chief executive of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which oversees the Strong Cities Network, said: “Through our Strong Cities Network, we aim to foster stronger cooperation between local governments who are best placed to identify and respond to the complex challenges that extremism poses.
“We’re thrilled to be doing this on a UK-wide level, working alongside Birmingham, Luton, Leicester, Manchester and London, supporting a more unified approach to sharing best practice and information in order to tackle the growing issues of hate crime, extremism and polarisation.
“By empowering those who know their communities best and providing them globally resonant approaches led by cities around the world, we stand stronger together to prevent the drivers of polarisation at source as they morph and change.”
We’ve also done a lot of work around building our resilience Council Leader Ian Ward
> Anti-terror barriers at last year’s German Market in New Street last year