Four far-right terror plots were foiled by police last year following a rise in activity by white supremacist groups, one of the UK’s most senior police officers has revealed.
National counter-terrorism police chief Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told ITV of the neo-Nazi plots as he warned that right-wing terrorism was a "significant" and growing threat to the UK.
In a lecture to the Policy Exchange think tank ahead of his retirement next month, he warned the rise of the extreme right-wing group National Action was “a matter of grave concern”.
“For the first time we have a home-grown proscribed white-supremacist neo-Nazi terror group, which seeks to plan attacks and build international networks” he told Security Editor Rohit Kachroo.
He also warned that Islamist extremists and white supremacists posed similar threats as he called for a "whole society" response to counter extremist views.
The policing chief said that all extremist groups work to divide society, create tensions, and create an environment "that provides a recruiting ground for terrorists".
“While Islamist and extreme right-wing ideologies may appear to be at opposing ends of the argument it is evident that they both have a great deal in common," he said.
“I think it important to expose some of what we see as extremists systematically and determinedly trying to undermine a peaceful, tolerant and democratic society.”
He said that there must be a wider drive to counter extremist ideology, and to protect the vulnerable who at risk of being drawn in by such groups.
He pointed to Darren Osborne, who was convicted of the anti-Muslim attack in Finsbury Park, as an example of how contact with extremists could help radicalise people towards committing terror acts.
Mr Rowley, who oversaw Scotland Yard’s response to five terrorist attacks last year, also said the children of terrorists should receive special protection in the same way as the children of paedophiles.
He said: "The family courts and social services now routinely wrestle with child protection and safeguarding cases arising out of terrorism and extremism.
"However, we still see cases where parents convicted of terrorist-related offences, including radicalisers, retain care of their own children.
"I wonder if we need more parity between protecting children from paedophile and terrorist parents."