Terror attacks are exacerbated by press coverage police chief claims
Britain’s most senior counter terrorism officer has said media coverage of deadly attacks could be exacerbating the problem and increasing the threat.Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, said while he did not seek to undermine press freedom, he was concerned that the reporting of extremist atrocities could be unwittingly promoting terrorism.Mr Basu said he understood the huge public demand for information when a deadly attack took place, but suggested the “relentless” coverage on the mainstream and social media was not always helpful.His controversial comments come just months after be became embroiled in a row over press freedom following the publication of leaked cables from the former British ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch.Mr Basu was heavily criticised when he suggested journalists who published such information could be prosecuted for breaching the Official Secrets Act.In his latest comments he warned the media against providing blanket coverage when terrorist attack took place.Speaking at an international conference on counter terrorism in Israel, Mr Basu, said the whole of society, including the media, had a role to play in helping to prevent extremists launching attacks.He suggested the coverage that followed such an incident might be playing into the terrorists’ hands by helping them promote their cause. He said: “Relentless media coverage of terrorist events is understandable given the public interest, but may exacerbate the problem. I am concerned that both social and mainstream media unwittingly amplify the threat.“I don’t seek to undermine press freedoms – they are important – but I do want to work with them to understand if their reporting style can help prevent, not promote, terrorism.”Mr Basu also revealed that the UK authorities have prevented 22 terror plots since the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017 – a third of them associated with far right extremism.It is understood three plots have been successfully foiled over the summer months since May. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.