Police Warn of ‘Highly Likely’ UK Terror Attack Over Christmas and New Year After Berlin Truck Horror
Jessica Haworth, Patrick Lion, Marc Walker, Mirror, December 20, 2016
Metropolitan Police have revealed they are reviewing detailed plans to protect the public at events across Christmas and the New Year.
The terror threat level in the UK is at ‘severe’ as hundreds of armed police and SAS troops prepare to patrol the streets.
A statement from the Met Police said it has “detailed plans for protecting public events” across London during the festive season.
It added: “These already recognise that the threat level is at ‘severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely, and have considered a range of threats, including the use of large vehicles.
“As a matter of routine, as a precaution, we review our plans after attacks overseas, and we are doing so at present following the awful incidents in Berlin and Ankara last night.”
Forces have deployed highly trained soldiers to go undercover at some of Britain’s most popular tourist spots including Christmas markets and shopping centres.
This comes after reports of a “credible” threat of a terror attack this festive season.
Around 200 SAS troops will be sent to cover busy high streets and shopping destinations, focusing primarily on major cities.
This comes after a lorry drove into shoppers at a Berlin Christmas market last night, killing at least 12 and leaving 50 wounded.
The driver is suspected to have hijacked a Polish truck driver before ploughing into crowds. The Polish driver was found dead inside his vehicle.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Christmas market lorry attack in Berlin, according to a report in the US.
The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force reportedly tweeted that the jihadist group has taken credit for the horror on Monday, which killed 12 people, the Washington Times claims.
In London’s Oxford Street, 70 elite troopers are said to be on standby and ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice if a threat emerges.
The plans are part of what has been dubbed Operation Temperer while SAS air cavalry will also be involved, it was reported.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan sought to reassure Londoners and visitors to the city over Christmas, saying that “keeping everyone safe remains the highest priority for the Met commissioner and for me”.
He said: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the awful suspected attack on Berlin last night, particularly those who were injured, the families and friends of those who were killed and all the emergency responders.
“We don’t yet have the full details, but this appears to have been a horrific and cowardly act of terror.
“All Londoners stand in solidarity with the people of Berlin today – this was an attack on our shared values, freedoms and way of life.”
The current MI5 terror threat alert in the UK is ranked as “severe” – meaning an attack is “highly likely”.
In Manchester and Birmingham, security measures were set in place to prevent an assault at the popular Christmas markets.
And in Northumbria, armed police are patrolling the city at a time where residents are finishing the last of their shopping.
Greater Manchester Police said they had strengthened their presence at the markets, which have almost 350 stalls spread across 10 sites in the city.
Assistant Chief Constable Debbie Ford said: “Greater Manchester Police already has a visible policing operation in place around the Christmas markets, in the city centre, and in other key areas across Greater Manchester in the run-up to Christmas.
“We will be working in line with the national response and have strengthened our policing presence at the Manchester Christmas Markets and stepped up visible patrols, to ensure that people feel safe to go about their daily lives.
“I would like to stress at this point that there is absolutely no information or intelligence suggesting any attack is imminent in Greater Manchester.
“If you do have any concerns at all don’t hesitate to get in touch with police.”
And in Birmingham, it has emerged that concrete barriers were installed eleven days before the attack over fears of a lorry driving into stalls.
The bollards were put up for Birmingham’s German Market to safeguard the thousands who flock to the seasonal city centre attraction each day against the possibility of a Nice copycat lorry attack.
It is estimated that 5.5 million people will visit the market before it closes on December 29.
A member of the emergency services told The Birmingham Mail : “We were told by the police they are there to prevent terrorist attacks.”
In Northumbria, residents were been left alarmed by armed police patrolling a city centre – with one mum complaining her young child was left sobbing.
Critics branded the sight of officers with large semi-automatic weapons in Newcastle ‘inappropriate’, ‘grotesque’ and ‘extreme’, reports ChronicleLive.
But others insisted they felt ‘reassured’, while Northumbria Police urged anyone concerned to have a chat with the armed cops.
The gun -toting officers sparked a debate on the issue after they were spotted in the city’s key shopping areas, including the festive market around Monument, on Saturday.
Commenting on the force’s Facebook post, Nic King said: “I don’t want to see guns the size of my child when Christmas shopping and these images have put me off going into Newcastle city centre.
“I understand there is no more threat to our safety and you are trying to reassure us, however, I simply don’t want to see armed police in my city.”
Mum Tina Argent wrote that her son was left sobbing and upset after seeing the police with guns, while Kirsten Luckins commented: “Your armed officers make me feel less safe, not more.
“What would you do if there was an incident, shoot down Northumberland Street? Ridiculous. This is entirely unnecessary, inappropriate and a grotesque normalisation of extreme measures.”
Not everyone was alarmed, with many others saying they felt reassured by the armed presence on the streets.
Suzanne Charlton wrote: “I think it’s fantastic and exactly what we need in this day and age in my opinion all police should be armed.”
And Maureen Raeburn said: “I for one am pleased there out on the streets, they do a good job and I definitely feel safer with them there.”