Fail to prepare; prepare to fail: a critical review of the United Kingdom’s preparedness for terrorism

Goldie, Adam (2016) Fail to prepare; prepare to fail: a critical review of the United Kingdom’s preparedness for terrorism. BSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This dissertation critically reviews the United Kingdom’s (UK), preparedness for terrorism. The dissertation focuses predominantly on terrorist threats stemming from Islamic extremism. Whilst numerous other comparable proscribed terrorist organisations are not omitted from the paper (notably the continuous threat to the UK from the Irish Republican Army), UK intelligence organisations such as Military Intelligence 5 (MI5), Military Intelligence 6 (MI6), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), consider the threat from Islamist extremists to be the most serious and expanding threat faced by the UK.
    The UK’s counter-terrorism strategy ‘CONTEST’ has attracted a plethora of criticism regarding its pre-emptive methodology when attempting to identify and apprehend those associated, and at risk of becoming associated with terrorism. The increase in UK nationals becoming involved with terrorism has prompted the government to direct its counter-terror effort towards preventing the process of radicalisation before it occurs. This stance has widely been acknowledged to have created frustration toward the government from communities who feel victimised by its blanket suspicion upon Muslims.
    A key focal point determining the government’s success in its preventative approach, is the sound understanding and accurate identification of the individual or group of individuals likely to exhibit extremist behaviours (with intent to cause harm), against the UK. Through a critical review of the four key elements of CONTEST, the dissertation argues that the implementation of preventative elements such as the criminalisation of adopting or exhibiting ‘extremist behaviour and ideologies’, accessing material potentially related to terrorism and the statutory duty placed upon authorities to identify individuals at risk of becoming radicalised, highlights that the government’s attempts to prevent terrorism are not only resting on the fringes of legality, but also offer no method of measuring effectiveness.
    Through an analysis of implemented past and present counter terrorism strategies, compounded with a review of the existing literature surrounding the scope of the potential threat faced by the UK from terrorism, the paper concludes that:

    - The lack of clarity regarding a commonly agreed upon definition of ‘terrorism’, negatively impacts on those responsible for mitigating against it.

    - Preventative strategies to identify individuals at risk of becoming associated with terrorism is fuelling hostility towards the government from Muslim communities.

    - The government’s attitude towards the root cause of terrorism is questionable based upon the motivators of individuals responsible for terrorist attacks against the UK.

    - Further primary research aimed at the link between the identification, disruption and prevention of terrorist plots and the elements of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy responsible for such, is necessary in order to effectively assess whether the UK is, and remains prepared for terrorism.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2017 14:47
    Last Modified: 20 Jan 2017 14:47

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