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More ethnic officers to help fight terror: UK

Britain's most senior police officer called for more ethnic minority and local officers to help the fight against terrorism.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2005 09:25 IST

Britain's most senior police officer called for more ethnic minority and local officers to help the fight against terrorism following the July 7 attacks in London.

In a high-profile speech on Wednesday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair argued that ordinary officers were just as important to national security as counter-terrorism specialists or intelligence officers.

Beat officers or even civilian community support officers were also more likely to be the first to confront a terrorist, he said.

Highlighting the failed July 21 bombings in London, Blair said the presence of a neighbourhood police team could have led to the alleged plot being detected sooner.

Blair warned that action was needed because Britain remained a target of "the highest possible priority" for terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda.

"Every community is at risk, which is the starkest of reasons why we need representatives of every community in our ranks," he said in the annual Dimbleby Lecture.

Blair used the occasion to call for a "widespread, fundamental debate" about the nature of modern policing in Britain.

Arguing for a "holistic" service that could deal with everything from "truancy to terror, from graffiti to gunmen", he stressed the need for an "open" public discussion about the future of British policing.

In the televised speech, he said: "What we should seek to avoid, at all costs, is a separation of local, neighbourhood policing from either serious criminal investigation or counter-terrorist investigation.

First Published: Nov 17, 2005 09:25 IST