Minister of Justice Knut Storberget and Minister of Defence Grete Faremo reported today to the Storting about the follow-up after the terrorist attacks of 22 July. The following is a summary of what they said in their reports.
“It has been one of the Government’s most important missions to combat all threats to our democracy and ensure the safety of the population,” said Mr. Storberget.
“Norway is a small country with limited resources for preparedness and crisis management. The totality of our resources must therefore be utilised in an optimally efficient manner for society as a whole,” said Ms. Faremo.
The Government has considerably increased the budgets of the police and prosecution services, from NOK 8.2 billion in 2005 to NOK 12.1 billion in 2011. Next year the police budget will be increased by a further NOK 696 million. The proposed investments in a new nationwide emergency communications network will next year bring the increase in total investment in societal security and contingency preparedness to over NOK 2 billion.
“The considerable strengthening of the police force over time, with increased budgets, doubled admission to the Norwegian Police University College and investment in equipment will continue,” said Mr. Storberget.
“A good emergency preparedness is not about just increased appropriations, but also about dealing with the political challenges and dilemmas that confront us. In the light of my report I am looking at so far seven main areas that ought to be the subjects of future political discussion:
1. Prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism
One of the most important missions of the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) is to prevent serious criminal acts before they take place. The PST’s preventive work involves first and foremost identifying radicalised milieus and individuals.
“After 22 July the point of departure for the preventive work must be the current threat profile. For several years the PST has considered that extreme Islamists represent the most serious threat to Norway and Norwegian interests,” said Storberget.
In its draft budget for 2012 the Government proposes strengthening the PST by NOK 46.4 million. These funds will inter alia go towards strengthening the PST’s work on open information acquisition.
In December 2010 the Government submitted the action plan “Collective security – a shared responsibility” in order to ensure a broad and coordinated effort in the work of preventing radicalisation and violent extremism.
“A broad preventive effort at an early stage, before extremist attitudes turn into violent acts, together with a determined strengthening of preparedness, is crucial to our security. I will therefore call upon the Storting to hold a wide-ranging debate about the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism,” said Mr. Storberget.
The PST is dependent on statutory backing for adequate methods. Access to methods such as room surveillance, telecoms surveillance and base station searches has been considerably reinforced in recent years. The terrorist legislation has also been updated.
“Moreover, I am happy that the Storting has approved the implementation in Norwegian law of the Data Storage Directive. This is decisive to the police’s ability to prevent and combat serious criminality such as terrorism,” said Storberget.
The Government is also working on a consultation document that raises the question of a further criminalisation of acts that can be regarded as preparatory to acts of terror. The events of 22 July 2011 revitalise the question of how far existing legislation sufficiently covers so-called solo terrorism.
“It is a fundamental and important question whether new methods and new penal provisions are always the way to go in preventing crime. We must always ask ourselves whether today’s methods are being sufficiently exploited before we introduce new provisions. I am therefore of the opinion that we need to take the necessary time in considering any changes to the law.
3. The police response time
The Norwegian police will have great difficulty satisfying a demand for equal response time in all geographical areas. Our country is too big and sparsely populated for that.
“We should nevertheless have a debate about what we should expect in the way of response times when extreme situations arise,” said Mr. Storberget.
Response time is dependent on the police transport capacity. In order to strengthen helicopter preparedness in the police, in its proposed budget for 2012 the Government has proposed to increase the appropriation by NOK 29.7 million.
The Government is also proposing to increase the appropriation by NOK 50 million in a continuation of the process of procurement of new rescue helicopters. The requirement specification for the new helicopters also means that these, too, will have a role to play in combating terrorism. Given their base structure, round-the-clock readiness and a 15-minute response time, the rescue helicopters will constitute an important preparedness resource for the police throughout the country.
“A number of police operations are of great importance for life and limb, and in my opinion this factor must be included in any consideration of support for the police. The Government will therefore clarify the guidelines for the main rescue centres’ evaluation if police requests to use the Sea King rescue helicopters in acute situations,” said Mr. Storberget, and continued, “In my opinion it is important to make sure that police assistance needs are given a high priority.”
In addition the Armed Forces’ helicopter squadron at Rygge airfield has been put into operational readiness for supporting the police on request. The Government has also taken steps to ensure that the Sea King rescue helicopters can more easily be used for transport of police personnel in an emergency.
It is also important for the response time to secure better facilities for some of our most operational emergency-preparedness forces, both with regard to better resource exploitation, rapid deployment time and better training. For this reason the Government is now working on the creation of a national emergency response centre in Oslo, with a view to unifying the police helicopter service, the Special Forces and other expert groups in Oslo police district.
Good communications are of crucial importance to good police operations and rescue and preparedness work. A new Emergency Network has now been established in the central parts of Eastern Norway, and this summer the Storting approved the extension of the network to the rest of mainland Norway. The Government proposes to increase the appropriations for this work by about NOK 1.5 billion next year.
The new emergency network will allow better communication between the police, the fire service and medical personnel, and thereby quicker assistance to the public in the event of accidents and crises.
“The events of 22 July show that capacity on the public emergency number, 112, may be vulnerable,” said Mr. Storberget. “The Police Directorate is now under way with strengthening the capacity of the operations centres to take incoming calls. Capacity and organisation of the operations centres are complex problems that we must be willing to tackle head-on.”
5. Protection of exposed objects
“We must recognise that Storting representatives and employees of the Ministries are entitled to adequate security measures at their workplaces,” said Mr. Storberget.
After 22 July the Minister of Government Administration and Reform has led a programme for renewed evaluation of the adequacy of security measures in the governmental district.
“I consider that, in parallel with this work, we must initiate a fundamental debate about what kind of society our politicians want. After 22 July the Government stated that we wanted more openness and democracy, but not naivety,” said Mr. Storberget. “At the same time, we must ensure that the Government and Storting cannot be put out of action. I therefore invite the Storting to inaugurate a debate on how to combine increased security with more openness and more democracy.”
6. Coordination between the police and the Armed Forces
The Armed Forces have an important role to play in the work of assuring societal security.
“The Armed Forces provide what relevant resources they have when the police ask for assistance, subject to the Instructions on Aid to the Civil Power. We are now reviewing these instructions to see whether the procedures can be further simplified,” said Minister of Defence Grete Faremo.
In principle all Armed Forces units may assist the civil power. “Some units will be more relevant than others, such as for example helicopters and forces that can contribute to object security,” Ms. Faremo said. “At the same time, it is important to point out that the Armed Forces’ primary mission is to assert Norwegian sovereignty and defend us against external attack. When we plan for the future development of the Armed Forces we are prepared to include in our evaluation the fact that the Armed Forces may be assigned more explicit, but restricted, missions related to societal security.”
“The roles of both the Armed Forces and the police are to protect democracy and create security for the inhabitants of Norway, within their respective fields. In recent years the division of responsibility has been clarified, and ought not in itself to be problematic. I therefore consider that we should question further coordination between the armed forces and the police. This is an important question for the Storting,” said Mr. Storberget.
7. Care for and follow-up of victims and next of kin
In the period after 22 July the municipalities have had the responsibility for the psycho-social follow-up of the victims of the terrorist attacks. This responsibility is discharged in close collaboration with the specialist health service, and the municipalities are supported by expertise from the regional resource centres on violence, post-traumatic stress and suicide prevention.
Under the compensation scheme for the victims of violence, victims of terrorism can be compensated by the Norwegian State for direct economic losses, non-pecuniary damages and invalidity, if these are not covered by other schemes. In its state budget for 2012 the Government has proposed increasing the appropriation to the victims of violence authorities by NOK 30 million in order to safeguard an efficient and reliable processing of the applications. It has been decided that these applications are to be considered even thought the criminal prosecution has not yet ended.
“In addition, the attacks have emphasised the great needs of the next of kin for information, and we must see whether the current handling of this is good enough. Everyone has a responsibility as a human being to be there for those who need us after these events. Many people have suffered appallingly, and they must not be forgotten,” said Mr. Storberget.