16 August 2021

Plymouth shootings could be classed as terror attack, say police

16 August 2021

The Plymouth shootings could be reclassified as a terror attack as police investigate the gunman’s links to the “incel” movement.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the decision to categorise Jake Davison’s murder spree as a non-terror incident was taken by the National Counter Terrorism Policing Network.

Social media use by the 22-year-old gunman, who killed five people in Plymouth before turning the weapon on himself, showed he appeared to have an interest in the “involuntary celibate” culture.

Jake Davison, from a video posted on YouTube (Jake Davison) (PA Media)

During a 12-minute attack in the Keyham area of the city, the apprentice crane operator shot his 51-year-old mother Maxine Davison at a house in Biddick Drive before he went into the street and shot dead Sophie Martyn, aged three, and her father, Lee Martyn, 43.

Davison then killed Stephen Washington, 59, in a nearby park before shooting 66-year-old Kate Shepherd and then taking his own life.

Speaking in the aftermath of the attack, Devon and Cornwall Police chief constable Shaun Sawyer said: “We are not considering terrorism or a relationship with any far-right group.”

In a statement on Monday, a force spokeswoman said: “The decision that this incident is not a terrorist incident was made by the National Counter Terrorism Network following a referral from Devon and Cornwall Police.

“The status of this will be kept under continual review and a further referral made should new information come to light.

“We are aware of Davison’s interest and engagement with the Incel movement and his use of various online platforms, and this forms a key strand within the ongoing police investigation.”

The law defines terrorism as the “use or threat of action, both in and outside of the UK, designed to influence any international government organisation or to intimidate the public. It must also be for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause”.

The misogynistic ideology has amassed a following online among some men who feel they are being oppressed by women due to a perceived lack of sexual interest.

It has prompted a discussion over whether or not incel violence should be treated as a hate crime, with experts disagreeing on the way forward.

Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said there were 10,000 people with incel views like Davison in the country.

“That kind of extreme misogyny of the type we have seen here and in terms of the incel community is a threat to all women and, ultimately, to all our communities,” he said.

The Government is likely to consider treating so-called “incels” as terrorists if there are more attacks like the Plymouth shootings, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation said.

Jonathan Hall QC added: “It fits rather uneasily into the way the authorities understand ideologies. It seems part of right-wing terrorism but it is not really. In fact, it is quite separate from it. It is a different sort of ideology.”

Incel culture has been associated with killings and acts of violence, particularly in the US.

In America last month, Tres Genco, a 21-year-old from Ohio who described himself as an “incel”, was charged with plotting a mass shooting targeting women in university sororities.

In 2014, Elliot Rodger, 22, killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California.

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