'About 20,000' extremists living in the UK, ex-police chief reveals

17 October 2021, 10:06

By Seán Hickey

The former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police declares that there are at least 20,000 extremists currently living in the UK.

Andrew Castle spoke to Sir Peter Fahy about security concerns in the wake of Sir David Amess' fatal stabbing.

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Ali Harbi Ali is currently being held by police in relation to the attack while concerns grow over extremism as counter-terrorism services get involved.

"How many young men powered by the thoughts of extremism – of an islamist kind – are in this country right now?" Andrew asked.

"We don't know" Sir Peter said, clarifying that extremism comes in many forms.

"We know that there are about 20,000 people of interest or serious concern" he revealed, adding "that is the reality of the society we live in and as you say it's all forms of extremism. It's increasingly right-wing extremism as well as Islamist extremism."

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Offering a reason for such a high number of potential threats, the former police chief argued that "the whole world's been changed by the internet, we live in a very troubled world."

He added that because of new technology "you are much more affected by events in other parts of the world" and extremist organisations prey on this fact.

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"It's really important we're not cowed by this, we don't change our democracy, but at the same time we have to be realistic."

Sir Peter concluded that all stakeholders in society have a responsibility to prevent the rise in violent extremism.