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Woolwich incident - government response

Statements from Prime Minister David Cameron, the Home Secretary and the Metropolitan Police about the death of a soldier in Woolwich.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking outside 10 Downing Street
Prime Minister David Cameron speaking outside 10 Downing Street

The Prime Minister is leading a task force on tackling extremism and radicalisation. This follows the death of drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on 22 May.

The special committee, which includes senior members of the cabinet and security chiefs, will build on the Prevent strategy which is part of the government’s counter-terrorism work. It met for the first time on 3 June.

Areas covered by the taskforce will include:

  • disrupting extremist activity
  • challenging poisonous narratives
  • trends in radicalisation
  • tackling radicalisation in institutions (mosques, madrassahs, schools, colleges, universities and prisons)
  • supporting faith and community leadership to build strong, integrated and united communities

Fatal incident

The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of COBRA on 23 May about the death of Lee Rigby.

The meeting, attended by senior figures in government and the Metropolitan Police, included an operational update from the police and agencies into the ongoing investigation and an update from the Ministry of Defence on security.

Following COBRA, the PM gave a statement outside Downing Street, where he outlined that “there is absolutely no justification for these acts” and that “confronting extremism is a job for us all”.

David Cameron thanked the police and security services, saluting their “incredible heroism,” and said they “will not rest until we know every single detail of what happened”.

He added:

This was not just an attack on Britain, and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to this country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.

He praised cub pack leader, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, who confronted one of the suspects.

Concluding his statement the PM said:

One of the best ways of defeating terrorism is to go about our normal lives and that is what we shall all do.

Read the Prime Minister’s full statement on the Woolwich incident

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Monday 3 June

Thursday 23 May

Wednesday 22 May

What is COBRA?

The aim of COBRA is to provide effective decision-making and rapid coordination of the central government response to incidents, drawing on the resources of other government departments, including the security and intelligence agencies, the police and other relevant organisations.

The last time COBRA met was during the Algeria hostage crisis in January 2013.

Published 22 May 2013