Domestic Social Issues and Terrorism in the UK
By Garrett Cooper
The tides of terrorism are reaching a number of nations with increasing severity, including the islands of the UK. With heightened tensions due to a number of terrorist attacks within the last few years and divisive rhetoric from both lawmakers and the general public, a sense of vulnerability is emerging.
The UK has also recently changed how it approaches defining terrorism, with domestic terrorism being marked just as dangerous as Islamic terrorism . Neil Basu, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner and National Coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, has said that nearly eight in ten would-be attackers in the UK were British-born or raised. The danger felt from multiple fronts is prompting changes in anti-terror policy.
The UK’s use of policing and security cannot be their only means of protection moving forward . The community is coming in to focus as a pivotal factor in reducing the threat of terrorism. In particular, limiting the spread of extremist propaganda (both Islamic and domestic), not forcing Muslims to assimilate, and allowing all faiths to worship without persecution. These factors have been identified as integral to the spread of terrorism .
Additionally, some in the UK have stated a need for more effort in stemming the spread of extremist propaganda which circulates online in alarming quantities. Nick Ryan, spokesman for the British anti-racism watchdog Hope not Hate has stated that “Attention also needs to be paid towards the enablers of terror and the social media platforms which have not only allowed the preachers of hate to spread conspiracies — like the great replacement fallacy used by the Christchurch terrorist and promoted by his supporters here in Europe — but also to monetize that hatred too.”
Informatively, the nation also possesses a terror threat indicator system which assesses and displays the likelihood of an attack in the UK on a scale from “low” to “critical.” Since the terror threat level evaluation was first made public in 2006, it has never fallen below “substantial.” Amid the spate of attacks in 2017, which killed 36 people in total, the threat level spiked several times from “severe” to “critical” — meaning an attack “is highly likely in the near future.” It currently stands at severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely.” 
In all, the UK has shown an increased awareness of terrorism stemming from multiple fronts. International terrorism, along with domestic threats and extremist rhetoric being propagated online have played important roles in prompting change in UK anti-terror efforts. Its efforts include awareness and inclusion of all parties within the country. However, with the pressures and rifts forming within the country as a result of Brexit and a new Prime Minister, it is difficult to foresee the UK’s most effective path forward with regards to its anti-terror efforts.
Hume, Tim. 2019. “The UK Now Considers Far-Right Terror as Dangerous as Islamic Extremism”, Vice News, July 24
Sputnik. 2019. “UK Counter-terror Chief Sparks Controversy for Saying Muslims Should Not Be Forced to Assimilate”, Sputnik News, August 7
Vikram, Dodd. “Counter-terror Chief Says Policing Alone Cannot Beat Terrorism”, The Guardian, August 6
BBC. “UK terror threat level: Risk from right-wing extremists to inform system”, BBC News, July 23