A serving member of London’s Metropolitan Police has been arrested on suspicion of a terrorist offence for being a member of the banned neo-Nazi terror group National Action, the arrest only adding further weight to the prime position the far-right now holds as the leading threat to British national security.
The 21-year-old officer who works in front line policing was arrested in North London on Thursday and remains in custody as of Friday morning, the Metropolitan police conducting searches of his home as investigations continue.
“Officers from the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards have been informed and the officer’s status is at present under review. The matter has also been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) as a mandatory referral. Whilst the investigation remains ongoing, at this time there is nothing to suggest there is any threat to wider public safety in relation to this matter.”Metropolitan Police
The neo-Nazi National Action has been proscribed as a terrorist entity since December of 2016 and has been responsible for racist, Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents and attacks across the country. These attacks include, amongst many others, the abusive campaign against former Labour MP Luciana Berger, the attempted murder of Sarandev Bhambra, threats to the life of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the plot by Jack Renshaw to assassinate Labour MP Rosie Cooper. Frequently named inspiration for the group includes Anders Breivik and Brenton Tarrant.
In September of 2017 four serving members of the British Army were arrested on suspicion of being members of National Action with a fifth man detained in Cyprus. Two of the soldiers arrested were eventually charged. Later that same month eleven others were arrested in raids across England and Wales with a further six arrested in January of 2018.
The latest arrest comes at it was revealed that for the second year in a row, white terrorism was the prevailing threat in Britain with 117 white people arrested on suspicion of terror offences in 2019 compared with 111 Asian suspects and just 21 black suspects.
A study from the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) revealed that in 2018 terrorist attacks by the far-right accounted for 17.2% of all incidents in the West while attacks by Islamist groups accounted for just 6.8% of attacks. 62.8% of terrorist attacks were not attributed to any group.
Andrew Parker, the director-general of MI5 and Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, have both stated that far-right terrorism is “a key threat to the safety and prosperity of the country”.
The new statistics on arrests show that the police and security services might finally be taking the threat from the far-right as seriously as the threat from Islamist groups. Yet, while the police continue to warn of the threat, the reaction from both the government and media continues to significantly lag behind the reaction and coverage offered to terrorism from Islamist groups with both frequently unwilling to name far-right terrorist attacks as terrorism and often ready to ascribe other reasons for the actions of the perpetrator such as mental health issues, reasons that are not similar afforded to alleged Muslim attackers.
If a serving member of the Metropolitan police had been arrested on suspicion of being a member of Islamic State or al-Qaeda then the story would be the number one story given coverage on every major British news outlet, undoubtedly with a continual stream of updates and articles. Yet the arrest of an officer on suspicion of being a member of National Action barely registers.
Both The Sun and Daily Mail have the story hidden away halfway down their pages, in no way highlighted.
When the right-wing press continues to downplay and excuse the actions of right-wing terrorists their agenda becomes clear, not to highlight the rising threat to members of the public, particularly members of the BAME community, but rather to portray a one-sided narrative where only Islamist groups and Muslims are a threat to the public. The rise of National Action and far-right terrorism does not fit their narrative.