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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Terror police shake-up proposed
Police officers
New structures will fight terrorism more effectively, Acpo says
Special police units and intelligence cells could be set up across England and Wales under a proposed shake-up of the counter-terror policing structure.

More resources could also be dedicated to surveillance and intelligence gathering on terror suspects.

The plans, drawn up by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), have been prompted by the "unprecedented" nature of the current terrorism threat.

They are to be considered by the Home Office before going to consultation.

The proposed dedicated counter-terrorism police units and regional intelligence cells would be set up in "key locations" across England and Wales.

Perpetrators are now clearly prepared to sacrifice their own lives as well as causing mass fatalities
Ken Jones

Acpo is recruiting for three new posts to co-ordinate the work of the regional units.

Acpo president Ken Jones said: "These developing proposals present a radical step-change in the way we police terrorism.

"The change in the threat over the past few years has brought with it a change in intention and tactics. Perpetrators are now clearly prepared to sacrifice their own lives as well as causing mass fatalities."

The proposals represented a "huge revision" of the infrastructure, processes and protocols required to effectively counter the terror threat, he added.

Lessons learned

The plans have been drawn up by Acpo's special Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee, which is responsible for setting the strategic direction of Britain's counter-terrorism activity.

It comes after Home Secretary John Reid revealed on Thursday that he had been asked by the prime minister to review Britain's counter-terrorist activity in the light of August's alleged airliner bomb plot.

Former Acpo president Sir Chris Fox told BBC News said lessons had been learned about the nature of the terrorist threat and the way terrorist cells operated, which the police service "wasn't structured to deal with".

He said: "There wasn't the capacity out in the rest of the country to have good surveillance teams, good intelligence teams and having it co-ordinated by someone at the centre.

'Successful tests'

"And it was really stretched to the limit last year on 7 July when the Metropolitan Police were operating with forces in Bradford, in Luton, in Thames Valley and down in Sussex, all at the same time.

"What we have to do is get more expertise out in those areas so that we can pick up the terrorist cells earlier, join together the intelligence and somebody can make an assessment of the big picture."

This called for a national co-ordinator with regional intelligence cells, he said, adding that these had already been successfully trialled in Birmingham and Manchester.

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