Monday, 12 January 2015

Terrorism and cars

On Saturday morning I was listening to Ken Livingstone and David Mellor on LBC radio discussing the recent shootings, apparently by Muslim extremists, at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They were discussing the question of whether or not the security services should be given more powers and resources to counter the perceived threat of similar attacks taking place on UK soil.
One of the themes that emerged during the phone in was the idea that while there might (according to some callers) be a case for strengthening the powers of those involved in countering the threat of terrorism, another possible response to the perceived dangers would be for the police to spend less time concerning themselves with traffic related issues and more time on trying to track down would be jihadists and militant extremists. Even Ken Livingstone concurred with this view.
I beg to differ and here is why:
In the last fifteen years, 53 people have died as a result of terrorist attacks on the British mainland. They were the 52 victims of 7/7, plus Fusilier Lee Rigby (figures from Wikipedia). These were of course horrific and senseless murders and I do not wish to in any way diminish the abhorrent nature of what took place in these attacks.
According to the Department of Transport's own figures, in 2013 (the lastest year for which figures are available) 1,713 people were killed in reported road traffic accidents in Great Britain (this is actually the lowest number of fatalities since national records began in 1926!)
Over 32 times as many people died on the roads in 2013 than died in terrorist attacks in Britain in the last 15 years. In light of this fact, surely it makes very good sense for the authorities to spend far more money and other resources on monitoring drivers and road traffic generally, than they do on defense against terrorism.

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