The UK Emergency Planning Society has expressed solidarity with its counterparts in France, and welcomed the additional 1,900 recruits for the British security services – but warns that terrorism cannot be countered by the expansion of one service alone.
Tony Thompson, the Chair of the EPS, said:
“Our thoughts go out to the victims and relatives of the terrorist atrocity in Paris, and all those affected by it. We would also express our solidarity with all our colleagues working for the Directorate of Civil Defense and Security and all emergency responders in France.
“Our members will continue to play their role in keeping the UK safe – the public must not be intimidated by such attacks but be defiant and vigilant.”
Tony Thompson, a former British Transport Police Superintendent, said that EPS members, in their professional capacity, had exercised regularly and planned for the type of multiple firearm and explosive terrorist attack witnessed in Paris, since the first such attack in Mumbai in 2008.
“The methods used by the terrorists in Paris are not unknown to emergency responders in the UK, and we have often practiced our response to it. “
He pointed to a presentation given to EPS members in the summer by NABIS – the National Ballistics Intelligence Service – where it was explained that assault rifles such as the AK47 usually originate from Eastern Europe, and are very rare here. He said: “The UK’s main strength is being an island which assists us controlling the borders, compared to continental Europe where the assault rifle is more commonly used, as seen in terrorist and gang related atrocities.”
Tony Thompson welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister to recruit a further 1,900 officers to the security services. However, he added: “There are four main pillars to the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy: pursue, prevent, protect and prepare. The concern of the EPS is that resources are being thrown into ‘pursue’ while we have seen continual reductions in both the Police service and the local authority based Emergency Planning Units, which are vital to deliver the three other tranches of the strategy. You must take a holistic approach.”
Tony Thompson added that back in April this year – during the Mediterranean boat crisis – the EPS warned that the authorities should stop thinking of the issue as one of immigration, but one of Displaced Persons similar to the approach at the end of World War II, where millions fled failed states.
“There are now reports that one of the attackers may have travelled to France under the guise of a Syrian refugee. Had the European countries worked together to adopt a properly organised, resourced and formal Displaced Persons regime, rather than the scramble that occurred as nations played ‘pass the parcel’, this may have been avoided. Once again, it shows the need for a joined-up response.
“It is multi-agency work that will deliver the counter-terrorism agenda, and EPS members will continue to play a key role, whether assisting with the Channel project to stop young people becoming radicalised, through to the day to day work in our communities – in which the public have a key role to play as well – in planning and preparing for every eventuality.”