IT is clear that the quick response of the police on the streets of Streatham spared Britain from a far more serious terrorist atrocity after the extremist Sudesh Amman – recently released from prison – stole a 10in kitchen knife began a stabbing spree.
Armed officers have to make split-second decisions and the law-abiding majority will be angry, and with reason, that officers were left in such an invidious position so soon after Amman, 20, was released from prison after serving just half of his sentence for a number of terrorism offences.
They will also want to know, in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack last November when Usman Khan, another convicted terrorist granted early release, stabbed two former Cambridge University students to death, why common sense is so rarely applied to the law.
Yet, while Boris Johnson believes more draconian sentencing laws are the way forward, a more nuanced approach is clearly needed of Britain is to become less susceptible to such acts of violence. Ministers need to consider whether prisons are fuelling radicalisation and whether cuts to probation funding, or other factors, played any role in the early release of these two terrorists.
But the more fundamental challenge is coming up with new ways to stop Islam, fundamentally a religion of peace, being taken captive by the disaffected who then use it as a vehicle to fuel their own extremist views. Yet, given the belief that Amnan was radicalised online, and then in prison, it suggests that harsher prison sentences are unlikely to have the effect desired by Mr Johnson, and Home Secretary Priti Patel, without a programme of policies, and education, which begins to disrupt the supply of radical material being propagated on the internet. It is a challenge the Prime Minister and all Muslim leaders should be willing to accept.