Counter-terror chief says policing alone cannot beat extremism

Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has said the police and security services are no longer enough to win the fight against violent extremism, and the UK must instead improve community cohesion, social mobility and education.

In his first major interview since taking up his post last year, the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu told the Guardian that up to 80% of those who wanted to attack the UK were British-born or raised, which strongly indicated domestic social issues were among the root causes.

Grievances held by people who were “malleable” to terrorist recruitment were highly dangerous, he said, calling for sociologists and criminologists to take a leading role in helping police tackle the problem.

Basu, who is highly regarded in Whitehall, is seen as a potential next head of the Met. His comments are a significant break in tone, if not strategy, about how to combat terrorism and prevent it from becoming a multigenerational struggle that damages the UK’s social fabric.

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