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Smith plans 300-strong force to tackle UK radicalisation

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UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is to announce 300 new police-service posts specifically targeted at preventing terrorist radicalisation in Britain.

The BBC reports today that Ms Smith will announce the new jobs later today in a speech to police officers. The extra staff will be a mixture of plods and civilian support personnel.

Smith is expected to say: "We recognise that we can neither arrest our way out of the problems we face nor protect ourselves to the point where the threat disappears.

"We need to dissuade that very small minority of people who wish to harm our communities from becoming or supporting terrorists. That is the long-term challenge."

The idea is that the new coppers and supporting civilians would try to forge links with mosques, prisons, universities, and other places thought to be favoured by terrorist proselytisers. Rather than simply seeking to bracelet troublemakers, management in such institutions would be assisted in maintaining a moderate Western-style atmosphere.

Opposition politicians suggested that the "new" staff would simply be drawn from elsewhere, and thus didn't represent any actual improvement to the police service. However, Smith's office insisted to the BBC that additional posts were being created and total police manpower would increase.

The announcements come against a background of heated debate regarding government plans to increase detention-without-trial powers in terrorism related cases. Both main opposition parties are against the measures, and it is thought that Labour may face a significant backbench revolt in its own ranks. ®

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