Time for action to end terrorism

The reaction to the latest terrorist atrocity in London reminds me of a hapless mum I saw in Queensgate the other day, trying in vain to control her errant child.

Saturday, 10th June 2017, 3:00 pm
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Over and over the child screamed for no apparent reason, and over and over mum begged vainly and pathetically for her to stop.

Mum did not adjust her response and the child just carried on as before. It’s the same after every new act of senseless terror that we are forced to witness. The butchery of innocents is followed by platitudes and expressions of sympathy and solidarity. We have had vigils, pop concerts and assurances that unity and love will conquer all. Then it happens again.

Britain has endured three horrific terrorist attacks in just 10 weeks, 39 innocent people, many of them children, have lost their lives, whilst scores of other have been critically hurt and had their futures altered forever. How many more must die or be maimed before we change our response to the clear and present danger that exists within our own borders?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Prime Minister, Theresa May, claims ‘enough is enough,’ promising to tackle the “whole spectrum” of extremism, but that will be difficult to do as we have 19,000 less police officers than we did seven years ago. Whoever wins the General Election, it’s blindingly obvious that we need more police on the streets in the future, not less, and that more of them need to be armed and visible.

The security services claim that there are around 3,000 people who are suspected of being involved in these terror plots and they need the manpower to cope with the huge scale of the problem.

I don’t believe in mass arrests without sufficient proof of wrongdoing, it breeds mistrust and animosity in those sections of society which it inevitably targets, and it dilutes our democracy.

But, maybe that is a better price to pay than the alternative; accepting the status quo as the new normal, that these atrocities are somehow “part and parcel” of modern urban life. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan may believe that, but I do not.

Surely, it is in the interests of all sections of society that dangerous people are taken off the streets, after all these fanatics are indiscriminate, their murderous deeds respect no religion or faith.

The security forces have done a sterling job, foiling plot after plot, but their hands need to be freed to help them cope with the size of the challenge.

If they must scrutinise our online lives too, then let them, if a little intrusion stops another group of children being blown to pieces, then I am all for it. They should be given powers to block any website that hosts extremist videos and advises people on how to make homemade bombs – this isn’t Big Brother, it’s common sense and should have happened long ago. There have been too many tears and too much talking, particularly when our enemy has no wish to partake in any sort of dialogue.

I don’t want to see any more lit-up buildings or Facebook tributes, what we need now from those in charge is not words but action.