Neo- Nazi groups pose ris­ing threat in Mid­lands

Solihull News - - NEWS - TOM DARE Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

THE West Mid­lands has seen a rise in the threat from neo- Nazi groups, ac­cord­ing to a lead­ing counter ter­ror­ism of­fi­cer.

The in­crease has led to three court cases over mem­ber­ship of the il­le­gal far- right group Na­tional Ac­tion over the past 18 months.

Speak­ing at the Strate­gic Polic­ing and Crime Board ( SPCB), Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Betts ad­mit­ted that the fight against Is­lamic ex­trem­ism re­mains the Counter Ter­ror­ism Unit’s ( CTU’s) main pri­or­ity.

But he also added that the West Mid­lands has seen a surge in the preva- lence of right- wing ex­trem­ism, with out­lawed group Na­tional Ac­tion of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to the force over the past 18 months.

Formed in 2013, Na­tional Ac­tion is de­fined by ‘ Hope not Hate’ as a neoNazi group that in 2016 be­came the first far- right group to be out­lawed by the gov­ern­ment since the Sec­ond World War.

Supt Betts said that the re­gion has been at the fore­front of the fight against the group.

“We are see­ing an in­crease in the right- wing stuff, and our re­gion has ac­tu­ally been at the fore­front of that in terms of the degra­da­tion of Na­tional Ac­tion. We’re now on to our third trial at Birm­ing­ham Crown Court in the past 18 months for mem­ber­ship of Na­tional Ac­tion, and we’ve had our first con­vic­tions in this re­gion for mem­ber­ship of the neo- Nazi right- wing group.”

Chief Con­sta­ble Dave Thomp­son agreed that the rise of right- wing groups has pre­sented an added chal­lenge for counter ter- ror­ism po­lice. But he said that the change in the cat­e­gori­sa­tion of right- wing ex­trem­ism has helped the force tackle its rise in the area.

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