Alongside so many others, I have expressed my horror at events in central London last night. As with the Westminster Bridge and Manchester Arena attacks, I have restricted my immediate comment to brief postings on Twitter. This weekend, the Police have ¬†responded magnificently to the murderous actions of ¬†three criminals whom we all understand to have sprung from a van used as a weapon on London Bridge. From media reports, there is a growing sense of the extreme bravery and selflessness shown by professional officers, including unarmed first-responders. Along with every other law-abiding UK citizen, I pay tribute to the dedication and – this is not too strong a word – heroism demonstrated by men and women from our Police and emergency services, for whom no effort is too great in order to keep people safe.
The fact that these events have occurred during a General Election campaign makes it even more important that lawyers like me stay out of the way, allowing politicians and the services themselves to keep us informed and to comment where they feel appropriate. This brings me to the Prime Minister’s words from 10 Downing Street this morning, which included the following:
Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years.¬† But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up.¬† So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain‚Äôs counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.¬†
And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do.
Naturally enough, I am receiving many requests for interviews and comment. Whilst it should be clearly understood that ¬†‘counter terrorism strategy’ encompasses far more than the terrorism legislation which I review, commentators may be right that the Prime Minister has some form of review of parts of that legislation in mind. However, I know no more than what we have all heard the Prime Minister announce this morning. I am not going to speculate, especially as we remain in the grip of an election campaign until Thursday. I therefore intend to maintain my previous stance, namely to allow the Police investigation to develop over the coming days. I hope that others will understand my position, but know that I am closely monitoring things said from any quarter which may impact upon my role as Independent Reviewer. Once the Election is concluded, I shall of course provide my comments as and when appropriate.
Meanwhile, like everyone else I applaud all who attend or perform at the Manchester tribute concert this evening, whilst mourning this new loss of life on the streets of London.