Britain has foiled seven terror attacks this year, including one in October, Prime Minister David Cameron revealed on Monday as his government substantially increased the budget for intelligence agencies following the Paris attacks.
“Our security and intelligence services have stopped something like seven attacks in the last six months, albeit attacks planned on a smaller scale,” he said.
He warned that attacks like the ones in Paris “could happen here” and Britain faced a continued threat from the IS. The carnage in the French capital was the “sort of thing we warned about” in planning with security agencies and such attacks meant authorities “have to go right back to the drawing board” to frame counter measures.
“Our intelligence agencies work round the clock behind the scenes and, as the threat has grown, so they too have risen to the challenge. This is a generational struggle that demands we provide more manpower to combat those who would destroy us and our values,” Cameron told BBC Radio’s Today programme.
The Paris attacks by the Islamic State, which claimed more than 130 lives, have emboldened quarters seeking more legal powers for intelligence agencies. Home secretary Theresa May was due to make a statement on security in Britain in the House of Commons on Monday evening.
Cameron said the new funding will be invested in security and intelligence agencies to provide 1,900 new officers at MI5, the domestic intelligence service, MI6, the foreign intelligence service, and GCHQ, which is responsible for signals intelligence. It will also be used to hire additional aviation security officers at overseas airports.
He added: “Economic security goes hand-in-hand with national security. Since 2010, we have taken the tough decisions necessary to restore our economic strength and we now have one of the fastest growing developed economies.”
Cameron said the West is prepared to compromise with Russian President Vladimir Putin to strike a deal to end the Syrian civil war, and added he and other world leaders were not being stubborn over demands that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad should step down at the end of the peace process.
Talks between Cameron and Putin during the G20 summit in Turkey were described as “constructive”, focussed mainly on the Syrian peace process. Cameron stressed all sides want a settlement that ends with a political regime in place as part of a planned transition.