Like Wall Street and Westminster, Scotland Yard is a name that summons up a host of associations. The name of the headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police (one of the oldest modern police forces in the world), these two words exist as much in fiction — in novels and on the screen — as they do in real life.
In the recent years, Scotland Yard has been at the forefront of Britain’s battle against the unprecedented terror threats it is facing from extremists. And the man leading this fight has been the country’s senior-most counter-terrorism officer, Neil Basu.
The Indian-origin deputy assistant commissioner is also tipped to take over as Scotland Yard’s National Lead for Counter-Terrorism after Mark Rowley (the current chief) retires next month. With Britain witness a spate of terrorist attacks last year, this job is now seen as the toughest one on in British policing!
Here are five things you should know about Neil Basu and his illustrious career.
1. Born to a father of Indian-origin, Basu was a wide-eyed “green” detective inspector in 2000 when he was recruited into a unit that was once known as Scotland Yard’s “ghost squad” because it was so secretive — its job was to investigate corrupt officers within the police force itself!
2. In the years that followed, Basu went from overseeing organised crime and gangs to specializing in anti-terrorism policing. He also served as the Area commander for South East London and headed London’s Armed Policing within Specialist Crime & Operation.
3. Basu has also been responsible for designing the police response to the ‘Pursue and Prevent’ elements of the UK government’s CONTEST (Counter-Terrorism Strategy). He also coordinated the responses of police during terrorism incidents and also managed Metropolitan Police Service’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15).
4. Currently posted as the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police, Basu coordinates the policing response to national threats arising from terrorism and domestic extremism. In addition to this, he also manages the regionally embedded counter-terrorism units that build intelligence in local communities and taps into neighbourhood policing.
5. Basu has also has been vocal about cracking down on British nationals who joined the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. In a recent interview with New York’s Combating Terrorism Centre in New York, he said that exclusion powers would be applied to about 200 of the 300 fighters who travelled from Britain to join ISIS and are still in the Syria or Iraq war zone.
“The big threat for us now is the ideology that’s been diffused onto the internet and the calls for attacks by its followers in the West by ISIS online. The caliphate may have been defeated militarily, but it has now become a virtual network”, Basu warned.