Lancashire councils could get new terror alert from MI5

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Councils and other public sector organisations in Lancashire could in the future receive information about potential terror suspects from MI5.

The intelligence service will be allowed to declassify information on individuals who have appeared on its radar, but are not under active investigation.

Security Minister Ben Wallace, Preston North and Wyre MP

Security Minister Ben Wallace, Preston North and Wyre MP

The plans for earlier interventions and information sharing were unveiled by the government yesterday.

Security Minister Ben Wallace, Preston North and Wyre MP, said the changes will first be piloted in Greater Manchester, London and the West Midlands.

Mr Wallace said the new initiative was not “spying” but would permit sharing of information from the top down.

He said: “These people are already known about... The modern terrorism threat is so quick from deciding they believe in something to grabbing a knife or something. If we want to get ahead of that we have to get further upstream.”

He said the level of information sharing would be decided “on a case by case basis”.

Under the current “Prevent “ strategy information is shared from the grass roots up about concerns an individual may be at risk of radicalisation and future terrorist activity.

Lancashire County Council leader Coun Geoff Driver said his council would be assessing the implications of the changes.

He said: “This is a hugely important area.

“We are fully committed to safeguarding communities by tacking extremism and work with the police and other agencies to protect people.”

Coun Simon Blackburn, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board and leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Information sharing could be a positive step but what is crucial is that councils are not treated as a replacement for the expertise and resources of the security services and police. “
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “One of the lessons from 2017 was that we need to work more broadly and share that data more locally.”