UK 'world leader' on security

Lord West's comments have been criticised by opposition parties
Lord West's comments have been criticised by opposition parties

Britain is better equipped at protecting its public from terrorism than any other country, security minister Lord West has claimed.

The Sunday Telegraph quotes Lord West as claiming UK security provided by the security services, boosted measures at airports and railways and anti-radicalisation efforts have turned Britain into a "world leader" of anti-terror expertise.

He claims the UK is "ahead of all countries in the world on the protection front, which is great" and predicts that Britain will soon be facing a "steadily declining threat".

Lord West's comments have attracted criticism from opposition politicians. Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis said Lord West's claims about the threat contradicted those given earlier this month.

"On November 5th, the head of MI5 [Jonathan Evans] publicly set out the 'growth' in the domestic security threat, saying 'I don't think that this problem has yet reached its peak', explaining that 'we will not be able to cover every potential threat'.

"It is not likely to enhance public confidence when the head of the security service and the security minister give such inconsistent assessments."

Last week the security minister appeared to get into trouble after questioning the need to extend the 28-day detention period for terror suspects.

He quickly backtracked on the issue, making clear he was "convinced" the changes were needed, after a pre-arranged breakfast with prime minister Gordon Brown.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Nick Clegg said: "First Lord West flip-flops over 28 days, then he brags about Britain's preparedness. This is not the way to improve public confidence in national security."

Lord West brushed off such claims, telling the Sunday Telegraph "mea culpa on that one".

"If I'd had time to explain I don't think this would have happened. I chose my words wrongly, and people say, 'you were sent for', and it's just not true," he said.


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