Terror threat in UK growing – home secretary


London : The terrorism threat facing the UK is “severe” and “growing” with police tracking dozens of plots, according to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

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“There are 2,000 individuals they are monitoring. There are 200 networks. There are 30 active plots,” Smith said Sunday. “That has increased over the past two years,” she said.

In an interview with the News of the World, Britain’s biggest- selling tabloid newspaper, she said that since the beginning of 2007, 57 people have been convicted on terrorist plots.

“Nearly half of those pleaded guilty so this is not some figment of the imagination. It is a real risk and a real issue we need to respond to,” the home secretary argued.

The growing threat comes despite the fact that the British government enacted a raft of new terror laws given the police a whole series of emergency powers since the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001.

Smith used her interview to insist that parliament passes further controversial legislation next month to give police the power to detain suspects for up to six weeks without charge.

“We can’t wait for an attack to succeed and then rush in new powers. We’ve got to stay ahead,” she said in the face of her government being confronted with a rebellion by MPs over plans to extend pre-charge detentions from 28 days.

“We now face a threat level that is severe. It’s not getting any less, it’s actually growing,” the home secretary warned.

But Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the Conservative’s shadow security minister and chair of the joint intelligence committee, said she did not agree with the government’s approach.

“If there are an increase in plots it doesn’t follow, I fear, that the right way to deal with that is actually then to hold suspects for an even longer time,” Neville-Jones said.

“What you need if you’ve got an increase in plots is the right quantum of resources for both the police and the intelligence services to track and disrupt the plots – and that’s a question of bringing resources to bear,” she told the BBC.