The Times reports that "MI5 and anti-terrorism police are monitoring more than 3,000 home grown Islamist extremists willing to carry out attacks in Britain", adding that "British men and women, many in their teens, are being radicalized to the point of violence within weeks". The Daily Mail and the Express and the Mirror also report the figures, offered by a source.
Yet back in February 2015, British newspapers also reported that the security services were monitoring an "astonishing" 3,000 extremists living in Britain.
These new reports on the back of the first ever live broadcast by the head of MI5 suggests that government is ramping up its rhetoric to gain more public support for its controversial Communications Data Bill, dubbed the Snooper’s Charter.
Britain’s Home Secretary is pushing for new legislation granting police and the intelligence services more powers to intercept and monitor terror suspect’s emails, social media, mobile phone conversations and google searches, whilst collecting and storing swathes of data at the same time.
Following the interview, MI5 and Andrew Parker released a statement:
"The way we work these days has changed as technology has advanced. Our success depends on us and our partner agencies having sufficient up-to-date capabilities… I welcome the government’s intention to update the legal framework accordingly and to make our powers more transparent."
During the interview Parker also called for more cooperation from big technology companies, like Google and Facebook – but Internet giants aren’t keen on compromising their users’ data and right to privacy.
Bit worrying that they push for the snooper's charter the same week they describe Corbyn as a threat to national security.— Text Aviary (@simonscott1975) September 18, 2015
But the government remains keen to continue the conversation with Internet companies following reports that thousands of young people are being radicalized online.
According to European police force, Europol, terrorists are increasingly turning to the Internet and social media to launch "well-organized, concerted social media campaigns to recruit followers and to promote or glorify acts of terrorism or violent extremism".
In response, Europe now has a dedicated team working with social media companies to try and shut down Islamic State’s propaganda activity on social media.
The Communications Data Bill is being officially presented as a piece of counter terrorism legislation. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that "we do need to modernize our rules about interception" and that the government "cannot allow modern forms of communication" to be "exempt from being listened to".
In another article published in the Times on the same day it reported that 3,000 Islamist extremists are being monitored in the UK, the editorial suggested: "IT companies will not help security services to crack terrorists’ messages. The threat to life trumps the threat to privacy".
The British government has been accused in the past of not having a handle on the situation involving the hundreds of British men, women and teenagers who have left the UK to join Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, recent press reports, suggesting that security services are monitoring 3,000 home grown Islamic living in the UK, tell British readers a different story.