Police Boss: Attacks Have ‘Domestic Centre of Gravity’, Won’t Reveal if Terrorists Were Known to Police
London’s recently installed chief of Police Cressida Dick has said the three recent terror attacks to hit targets in the United Kingdom had a “domestic centre of gravity”, but refused to comment on how much police knew about the perpetrators before they struck.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme Monday, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick said officers had now identified the attackers — but refused to answer a question posed by the BBC host over whether the individuals had previously been known to police:
“We believe we have identified the three people who carried out these terrible, terrible attacks… I’m not going to comment on what we knew about the people involved.You will be aware we have a very fast-moving investigation, we’ve made a number of arrests, we have also carried out lots od searches, we have an enormous amount of forensic material. We do have a very large intelligence database available to us through the agencies, and of our own.
“You will be aware we have a very fast-moving investigation, we’ve made a number of arrests, we have also carried out lots od searches, we have an enormous amount of forensic material. We do have a very large intelligence database available to us through the agencies, and of our own.”
Dick’s comments come just a week after intelligence sources admitted the number of Islamists known to intelligence and police in the UK was much higher than the previously accepted 3,000 figure, and was actually around 23,000.
The new number became known after two terror attacks were committed by Islamists who were not under active surveillance by British intelligence, but were instead part of a broader pool of ‘persons of interest’.
Dick attempted to calm concerns after the spate of attacks, remarking that while three had happened, officers had also foiled five others in that time. She said: “I know people will be very concerned that we’ve had three horrendous attacks in the last nine weeks. It is worth also pointing out that we’ve also foiled five attacks [recently], and since 2013 we’ve foiled 18 attacks.
“Inevitably with a large database and some very good knowledge, on occasion, someone will… get through and be successful, and on occasion, those people may have been known to the authorities before”.
Of these attacks both actual and foiled the majority were rooted in domestic rather than international terrorism, said the senior officer. Dick said: “All the recent attacks have a primarily domestic centre of gravity. In the five that we’ve foiled, and these three recent attacks, in some of them there are undoubtedly international dimensions.
“We will always be looking to see if anything has been directed from overseas, but I would say the majority of the threat that we are facing at the moment does not appear to be directed from overseas.”
Acknowledging that the police would now have to “step up” their game, the police commissioner also called on communities to do more to report suspected extremists. She said:
“We have always been able to step up our game. That is what we need to do now. As do people in our communities.
“We get lots of information, more than we ever have. We have people standing up and condemning these attacks. We need more in the future.”