Counter-terror strategy to be updated to tackle online hate

Government says landscape is becoming more diverse and fragmented

Credit: StockSnap/Pixabay

The UK’s long-standing counter-terrorism strategy is to be reviewed and updated to better tackle threats arising from “hateful online ideologies”, ministers and police chiefs have announced.

The strategy – known as CONTEST – has been in place since 2003 and has been refreshed three times previously. The latest update comes in a bid to help authorities respond to a world in which “terrorists are diversifying and becoming increasingly fragmented”.

This landscape is now often dominated by people – in many cases lone young adults, and largely informed by online groups and interactions – “operating independently from organised groups [and] with increasingly personal ideologies [and] warped views used to justify violence”.

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Matt Jukes, an assistant commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service and the head of counter-terrorism policing across England and Wales, said: “Since its launch in 2003, CONTEST has proved to be an enduring and effective strategic framework for the UK’s counter terrorism response, but it shouldn’t stand still. Today’s threat is dominated by increasingly fragmented ideologies, self-initiated terrorism, and the reach of hateful online ideologies into the lives of the young people. It is vital that any future strategy reflects these learnings and also looks forward to the collaborations we will need in the future to keep people safe.”

The government indicated that the review process will seek input from a diverse range of experts in both the UK and overseas. It will also take on board conclusions from other reviews, including the second volume of the inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing, as well as a recent assessment of the Prevent strategy – the intention of which is to stop people from becoming involved in terrorism.

Led by the Home Office, CONTEST cuts across activities from 20 individual government agencies.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat said: “Terrorists seek to divide us and sow hatred. We will not let them. Our commitment to the values we cherish is too strong. But as the nature of terrorism continues to evolve and endure, so must we. We will ensure that our response to the terror threat continues to be world-leading and ensure we have a strategy that allows people to go about their lives freely and with confidence.”


Sam Trendall

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