Now There’s Controversial Isn’t It

Yesterday (Sunday) I happened upon a conversation that had been started on Facebook. .An ex colleague was mulling over the options that the UK would have in the event of terrorist incidents such as Paris the other day. Some of his thoughts are reproduced below


Many years ago, in the face of numerous known terrorists being similarly free in Northern Ireland, a government acted decisively to intern them. As of course we did during both World Wars. It is much easier and cheaper to keep tabs on the enemy when they are all kept, securely, together. That would be possible now, or at least we have the resources to do so. But many years ago safety and security were not trumped at every stage by the need for ‘social cohesion’………..

………..Do we have the leadership prepared to do what is necessary, in Government or the Police? Of course not. There is an election brewing for one thing, but beyond that our political elite seem to be lacking in vision, in their ability to act in the national rather than personal interest and in, well, common sense. They will steadfastly refuse to be decisive now and protect our nation.


it got me thinking, and I’m perfectly well aware that my thoughts will not be popular with all of you.

We (and our government) HAVE to accept that the face of International Terrorism has changed drastically already.

Successive government policies have weakened our ability both to prevent a terrorist attack such as Paris, and to investigate it afterwards, or mount a proactive operation such as we saw last week.

Questions have already been asked by the media such as “How could those events be allowed to happen?” and “If those terrorists had already come to notice how could they be allowed to carry out those attacks?”

Nobody ALLOWED them to happen. Intelligence is not evidence. 17 innocent people, including 3 Police Officers, lost their lives. Any Law Enforcement Agency would have prevented that if they could. Nobody wants that on their watch.

So, the authorities had received intelligence about all four of them at some time.

I have been that man that trawls through thousands of lines of telephone data trying to make sense of it. There are some excellent bits of proprietary software that will do it for you, but they can only tell you that Phone A was in contact with Phone B 27 times yesterday. They cannot tell you who was making or receiving the calls.

That takes good old-fashioned coppering. It takes time and it’s resource intensive. Or it requires a warrant signed by the Home Secretary (no laughing at the back).

So what are the alternatives, what else can we do?

My initial response is reproduced below.

Seeing as how terrorists seem to rewrite the rules of engagement with alarming frequency maybe a combination of Internment and a panel of Judges to oversee it might work. Not a huge fan of locking people up on mere suspicion, but you’re right, it probably is time to try something different, but we would need to get it right first time.

We can’t put very many more Police Officers on the streets etc than we do because we’ve simply run out. May and Winsor have seen to that, with nearly 17,000 gone already with the promise of more to follow.

Soldiers? We could put soldiers on the streets except that the government has slashed the numbers in the military as well.

We could increase the number of Bobbies that are armed, but last week’s operations in Paris apparently involved over 80,000 Gendarmes, Marines, Soldiers and Special Forces. We could not currently match that I’m sure. We most certainly possess, or have access to, all the skills and equipment needed, but a tad short on numbers, and a government with the balls to authorise such an operation.

To return to my response above, if the face of Terrorism has changed, we have to change. If you’d asked me a year ago my answer may well have been different, but just maybe George Dixon has had his day.

If numbers are to stay reduced maybe the Police Service (or a big chunk of it) needs to become more paramilitary. Maybe the government do need to rethink Internment, with suitable safeguards such as a panel of judges hearing all the intelligence, possibly in camera.

I have never been a huge fan of Internment, and I think I can see most of the problems and objections, but if it saves lives, would that make it worthwhile? I most certainly don’t make this suggestion light-heartedly and would welcome alternative suggestions and discussion.

I’m sure someone in the private sector will be only too happy to build and run a couple of Detention Centres.


5 thoughts on “Now There’s Controversial Isn’t It

  1. It seems to me that the people who do such barbaric acts as the murders in Paris this week are not really primarily driven by any form of idealism. I believe that in the main they are firstly naturally violent with an innate propensity to harm others and that they then seek a ‘false’ justification to commit acts of violence.
    I see little difference between the murderer ‘justifying’ his acts by religious or political belief or those gang members killing to revenge the ‘dissing’ of a fellow gang member. People who can justify, if only to themselves glassing another person on the grounds of “looking at me funny”, or “you was looking at my bird” or wearing different football colours, or the myriad other false justifications given for extreme acts of violence.
    We have seen these types of people in all sorts of terrorist events, they are the foot soldiers of terrorism.
    One of the murderers of Lee Rigby had a street gang criminal background. If you saw the video of Cherif Kouachi as he was in his street gang rapper days you could easily contemplate him being involved in criminal gang violence.
    Generally these inherently dangerous people are not intelligent, there are of course exceptions, but in the main they are not bright.
    The really dangerous terrorists are the recruiters, the groomers the financiers the men in the background. The ones who exploit this pool of sorry inadequates who can only express themselves in violence. I feel the pool of potential foot soldier terrorists is too deep to be dealt with by internment of them.
    Our efforts must be directed at the people in the centre of the web, the ones who do not get their hands dirty. In particular the financiers. Training, guns and explosives are expensive, all these things are being paid for. Deal with them and you cut off the means.

  2. Leaving aside it is far too early to safely make decisions after events in Paris, it is right that we should consider our national options.

    Internment is an option in extremis, but there are other options – some could be done easily with emergency legislation, properly debated in parliament.

    First and foremost, allow phone intercept product to be used in evidence. The UK is now the ONLY legal juristdiction that does not allow this (I exclude the very specific exceptions that crept through a few years ago). There have been repeated attempts to get this agreed, facing strong and eventually successful opposition – if not a veto – by the secuity services.

    Second, create a national armed police (UK-wide, excluding Northern Ireland) by combining the existing armed civil police forces, CNC and MoD. Maybe adding in those trained officers in other forces (inc. NCA).

    Third, as a nation be honest with ourselves. There is a threat from evil people and one day they will be succesful. We are vulnerable and always will be. France had an extensive CT armoury, including firearms control and online surveillance, that did not stop the attacks.

  3. Happy New Year

    “let’s bring back internment” “the perpetrators violence was innate” “let’s havd a national armed police service.”
    Let’s not. First of all don’t panic. Second let’s have ideas that work. Thirdly you’re all proof that by generating hysterical responses you’ll do the terrorists job for them.

Please Feel Free To Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s