Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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Neil Basu


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NEIL BASU, who is on television reassuring the public every time there is a terrorist outrage, is assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police in charge of specialist operations.

He is also ‘National Police Chiefs Council lead for counter terrorism policing’. In other words, his job is to work closely with MI5 in keeping the nation safe. But he is no ordinary copper. For a start, he is Britain’s most senior ethnic minority police officer with all the responsibility that brings.

“My utopia is never to have to be on television again,” he says. “The goal should be zero attacks. Every attack is an intelligence failure by definition. It might just have been unstoppable, a whole series of events that are unstoppable. But I will always take it as a personal failure. It’s something I think about every single day.”

Born in 1968, the son of a Bengali doctor from Calcutta, the late Pankaj Kumar Basu, and a Welsh mother, Enid Roberts, Basu has been in the police force for 28 years, six of them in counter terrorism.

He indicates where his loyalties lie with a “hashtag Basu, not black, not white, just blue”. In the last four years, there have been seven terror attacks, such as the ones at London Bridge, Westminster and Manchester Arena.

On the face of it, it looks as though things have been quiet during the pandemic but Basu reveals nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, police have foiled 27 serious attacks.

The kind of outrages that happened in France and Vienna could easily have been repeated in Britain.

But there is much more to Basu than being the head of counter terrorism. He has examined many of the underlying problems in society that lead “vulnerable and malleable” young people to be radicalised

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