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Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how she plans to ensure that Independent Advisory Groups are able to deal with the aftermath of local counter-terror operations; and if she will make a statement. (245693)

The Association of Chief Police Officers has issued guidance to forces to assist them in managing concerns and tensions within local communities during and following a counter terrorist operation. The guidance suggests that the police include members of Independent Advisory Groups (IAG), as well as police authority members and locally elected members, in the group that is formed to deal with the operation.

At a strategic level, a National Independent Advisory Group has recently been formed to represent the local IAGs at a national level. This group will act as a central resource to forces in order to provide specific community expertise and advice in the event of a counter terrorist operation.

Separately, a two day table top exercise (Op Nicole) has been developed by the Association of Chief Police Officers Terrorism and Allied Matters (ACPO (TAM)), National Community Tension Team. It is designed to break down barriers between police and Muslim communities by promoting an understanding of how counter-terrorism operations work. At the same time, it provides police officers with an insight into Muslim community concerns and the impact that counter-terrorism operations can have upon those communities. It also addresses some of the myths that surround CT work.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps the Government have taken to improve counter-terror policing in the West Midlands. (249478)

[holding answer 22 January 2009]: We have worked with ACPO and West Midlands Police since 2004-05 to establish a counter-terrorism capacity and capability outside London. The Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) in Birmingham developed from this pilot work to become, in early 2007, one of three strategically located units of national assets placed under the local control of a lead force. The CTUs enhance, complement and support the work of police forces by providing coordination and specialist support to deliver our counter-terrorism strategy. West Midlands CTU has a broad operational capability that incorporates intelligence, investigation and surveillance functions. Personnel working within the unit have been responsible for a number of arrests and prosecutions as well as more discrete day-to-day prevention and disruption activity to counter the threat posed by terrorism.