New mea­sures as ‘threat as great as it’s ever been’

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

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

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