Far right extremism growing in the UK, warns senior police officer

Chief Constable of West Midlands police Dave Thompson said the UK was at risk of far right attacks like those seen in Germany
Monday 24/02/2020
In a file picture taken on February 28, 2015 a protester gives a raised fist salute during a demonstration by the UK branch of the German group 'Pegida' in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, Northern England. (AFP)
In a file picture taken on February 28, 2015 a protester gives a raised fist salute during a demonstration by the UK branch of the German group 'Pegida' in the city centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, Northern England. (AFP)

LONDON – Far right extremism is growing in the UK, with those who pursue this ideology increasingly intent on committing terrorist attacks, a senior British police officer warned. 

In comments carried by the Times of London, chief constable of West Midlands police Dave Thompson acknowledged that Britain was at risk from similar attacks as seen in Hanau, Germany last week. 

“There is more intent around attack planning than we’d seen in the past,” he said, “This is a trend we’ve seen across the western states and possibly eastern Europe.”

The perpetrator of the Hanau attack, Tobias Rathjen, which resulted in nine people being killed in a gun attack on two shisha cafes, expressed an explicit hatred of foreigners and called for a mass killing of people from the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa in a manifesto published before the attack. 

Thompson, who is also vice-chairman of the National Police Chief’s Council, acknowledged that radical Islamist terrorist remained the number one threat, but said officers were devoting more and more resources to tackle right-wing extremism. 

“There is a greater prevalence of extremist far-right activity, and we’ve got to police this very carefully because people are not just talking about a shared ideology, they do talk about doing things,” he said. 

“It isn’t just promoting an ideology, it is a very much fixated approach on attacking people,” he added. 

Thompson also commented on the government’s plans to revamp its counter-terrorism strategy after two incidents saw convicted terrorists recently released from prison carry out new terrorist attacks. A policy of automatic release, with terrorists being automatically granted freedom half-way into their sentences, has been heavily criticized, with many calling for an end to the policy and more action on de-radicalization. 

“This isn’t going to go away as a problem because even if we defer it these people will get released. It’s something I think we will be talking about for quite a long while and hopefully we will end up with some good legislation to try and make sure there is a better approach.”