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Deputy Mayor of London Queries Value of Terror Alerts

Deputy Mayor of London Queries Value of Terror Alerts

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday October 06 2010

 Counter terrorism   The Evening Standard reports that London’s deputy mayor, Kit Malthouse, has called for a public debate on the value of terror alerts, saying, “such alerts, and Britain’s official threat level warning, risked handing victory to the terrorists by spreading fear and confusion among the population while doing little to prevent an attack.”

He adds,

“It is unfortunate that it has come out and the moment that people feel frightened and alter their routine the terrorists have won.”

The concept of terror alerts playing in to the hands of ‘terrorists’ is a theme that the Telegraph’s new diplomatic editor, Praveen Swami, also picked up on. He says, “it is hard to understand just what these warnings are intended to achieve.”

“Having told us a plot exists, though, what is it that governments now expect us to do? So far, we’ve only been told to be vigilant, an exhortation that has little tangible meaning.”

In addition, he highlights some interesting statistics that would highlight the disproportionate attention given to these alerts when measured against fatalities by terrorism-related causes.

“In an article published this summer, scholars John Mueller and Mark Stewart determined that the annual risk of terrorism-related fatality to an individual in the United Kingdom was 1 in 1.1 million between 1970 and 2007”, adding, “put simply, terrorism poses less of a threat than everyday life.”

Other comments this week have also questioned the value of vague terror alerts which, they say, cause distress to the population, disrupting life for ordinary people and thereby, in essence, doing the terrorists’ job for them.

According to the Home Office website, the UK’s domestic threat level rating “helps police and other law enforcement agencies decide how to allocate staff.”

The website reminds the public, “you should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism, look out for suspicious bags on public transport or any other potential signs of terrorist activity you may encounter” but adds “you should not let the fear of terrorism stop you from going about your day-to-day life as normal. Your risk of being caught up in a terrorist attack is very low.”


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