Neo- Nazi groups pose rising threat in Midlands
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.