Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the head of Counter Terrorism Policing in the U.K. has declared that the country’s threat level from terrorism has been increased from substantial to severe.
“Overnight, we heard the terrible news of another terrorist attack in Europe – this time in Vienna, where four people were killed,” Basu said on November 3. “Our thoughts are with all of the victims, their families and loved ones of the recent attacks both in Austria and France, as well as all of the emergency service personnel who continue to respond to and investigate these atrocities.”
Basu said there is currently no intelligence to link any of these attacks to the U.K., but that the threat level has changed as a precautionary measure in response to events in Europe.
“This threat level moving to severe means it is highly likely that a terrorist attack could happen in the U.K., but I want to stress that the change is not based on a specific threat. However I do urge the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to police. Now, more than ever, we need communities to stand together and reject those who seek to sow division and hatred between us. We need communities and families to bring to our attention anyone they perceive may be vulnerable, a danger or escalating towards terrorism.
“Whilst we want the public to remain alert, they should not be alarmed by this change in threat level. We have a variety of established operational tactics that are tried and tested, to ensure that the UK is both well prepared and protected from the threat of terrorism.
“Since 2014, when the threat level was last changed from substantial to severe, we have continued to build on our capability and enhance security arrangements against the backdrop of a consistently high level of threat. Officers work day and night to protect the public and keep them safe from the threat of terrorism and this will not change. We have activated the established planning mechanisms across the police service, which will lead to enhanced protection and preparedness. Some of this will be visible and involve additional police officers being deployed to certain places and locations, which the public can expect to see over the coming days.”
Police have already started to increase levels of visible patrols and implement other security and protection measures.
“Our efforts can only succeed where we have the support of the public – it is communities standing together that defeats terrorism,” Basu concluded.
The U.K. uses five threat levels to convey the perceived risk of a terrorist attack on British soil:
- low – an attack is highly unlikely
- moderate – an attack is possible but not likely
- substantial – an attack is likely
- severe – an attack is highly likely
- critical – an attack is highly likely in the near future