CST urges people to 'play their part' in being vigilant after Pittsburgh

Police confirm patrols in some areas will be more visible


The Community Security Trust has provided reassurances on security at UK synagogues and schools in the wake of the Pittsburgh terror attack — but has also urged everybody to “play their part” in being vigilant.

Police confirmed that patrols in some areas of the UK would become more visible over forthcoming weeks.

David Delew, CST’s chief executive, said: “Jewish communities in Britain and elsewhere are horribly familiar with the reality of antisemitic terrorism. They know it is highly unusual but that, tragically, it does of course occur.

“Each country has its own local dynamic and it is obvious how widespread guns and mass shootings are in America. Here in Britain, terrorists find guns harder to come by, so we see more use of improvised explosives, knives and vehicles. In every case, Jewish communities need to adopt the same attitude to security as prevails in Israel. 

“That means everybody must play their part, with a calm determination to lead your way of life, but also being keenly aware of what is going on around you and immediately reporting any suspicious behaviour: to police, security guards, or CST.”     

There has been growing concern since the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016 about the multiplication of  far-right extremist cells, and Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger has suffered repeated threats from neo-Nazis.

There is also concern over the increasingly sinister nature of online threats against high-profile Jewish figures  emanating from the far-left of the political spectrum. 

The latest Home Office figures for the year to June 2018 show that the number of white people arrested on suspicion of terror offences outnumbered Asian suspects for the first time since June 2005, shortly before the London bombings.

In an interview conducted only days before the Pittsburgh atrocity, Sara Khan, the UK’s first counter-extremism commissioner, warned about the rise of the far right in cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff, and in towns such as Luton. She said: “In every place I visited, I heard deep concerns about the activity and impact of the far right.

“Councils across the country raised the impact the far-right demonstrations have on whole towns, exploiting tensions and stoking division. I repeatedly heard about a climate of intolerance and polarisation.”

But communal security sources told the JC that while the American far right is more explicitly antisemitic than their counterparts in the UK, there is little doubt that neo-Nazis in this country are “influenced by what happens in the States”.

The source added: “At the moment the British far right would appear to be focusing on targeting the Muslim community, even though organisations such as National Action, which is relatively small but a very dangerous organisation, have been shown to be incredibly antisemitic.

“But the concern is that there does seem to be a move towards terrorist activity among the far right in the UK. And via the internet and other means of digital communication, it is now incredibly easy to share details of how terrorist acts such as that in Pittsburgh have been conducted.”

On Monday, Ben Wallace, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office, confirmed that £13.4m had been allocated to the Jewish Community Protective Security Grant for the year 2017-18. The cash is to be spent on security for schools, colleges, nurseries, communal sites and synagogues. Mr Wallace was responding to a question from Hampstead and Kilburn Labour MP Tulip Siddiq on the amount of funding given to CST for school security each year.

Communities Minister James Brokenshire said in a statement on Wednesday: “Last week, the world witnessed devastating scenes unfold in Pittsburgh as senseless violence was inflicted upon a Jewish community inside their place of worship.

“Alongside the Home Secretary,  this month I published our renewed plan to tackle hate crime, including further funding to provide protective security for places of worship.” 

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