Woolwich attack: Ex-Met boss calls for public assurances from security services

09:51 24 May 2013

Soldiers walk past floral tributes outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Soldiers walk past floral tributes outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

A former Met Commissioner has said the public need to know whether the security services are operating properly following the Woolwich killing, as reports found the two attackers were known to MI5.

Lord Blair said it was important a statement was made clearing up whether or not bad decisions were taken by the services in their monitoring of the two men accused of killing Drummer Lee Rigby.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, he said: “I think it’s important for the public to have somebody say within the limits of legality that either something was mistaken, decisions were badly taken, or they weren’t, because I think it’s important for the public to know that security services and the police are operating properly.”

But even with the necessary resources, officials must have “very high levels of suspicion”, he added.

On the same programme, the government’s communities secretary Eric Pickles stressed the Prime Minister was “very clear” he wanted to see an investigation about “what went right and what went wrong” as it emerged the alleged killers - reported as Michael Adebolajo, 28, and 22-year-old Michael Adebowale - were known to security services.

Ex-MI6 officer Richard Barrett told the BBC it was “enormously hard” to identify that someone is going to commit a crime like this.

“When does a person who expresses radical views, who joined a radical group, flip over to be a violent extremist, somebody who’s going to commit a crime like this?” he said.

“And to find the signals, the sort of red flags as it were I think is enormously hard. And I imagine these two people themselves didn’t have any intention to commit a crime like this until relatively recently before they did.”

Latest Stories

Yesterday, 16:31
Syrian activists in Kafranbel pay tribute to the murdered American war journalist

The video of US journalist James Foley being beheaded by a jihadi with what appears to be a London accent has been shared millions of times around the world already.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:12
Hyacinth Brown is still recovering from the heart attack in hospital.

An elderly pastor suffered a heart attack after police burst through her door in an early-morning drugs raid which her family say was a “massive mistake.”

Read more
Yesterday, 12:40
This undated image shows a frame from a video released by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of journalist James Foley  (AP Photo)

An American journalist has been beheaded on video by an ISIS fighter in Syria - who is believed to be from London.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

Can you find the animals hiding in London station names? (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

You may not realise it but there are animals hiding in stations across London? Play our quiz and see if you can you find them:

Read more
Can you guess the Tube station just from the outside? (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

How well do you know your Tube stations? Can you guess these Underground stops from the pictures taken outside them?

Read more
But which London?! [Photo courtesy of Basher Eyre]

You might know London like the back of your hand, but how well do you know the other Londons - and London landmarks - across the world?

Read more