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12 Jan, 2015 14:00

Police chief urges calm over UK terror threat

Police chief urges calm over UK terror threat

Prime Minister David Cameron says terror threats in the UK are his ‘greatest concern’. However, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has called for the public to remain calm following the recent attacks in Paris.

Senior security sources warn that Britain may raise its terror threat level to ‘critical’ – the highest possible category. Critics believe more money should be invested in intelligence services to counter the threat.

Cameron has renewed calls for the introduction of the ‘snooper's charter’ to monitor extremists.

Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Bernard Hogan-Howe (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

Plans for a communications data bill were blocked by Liberal Democrat partners in the coalition government. However, Cameron says if he wins May’s general election he will “revive the legislation.”

Police Commissioner Hogan-Howe says the Metropolitan Police “do their best” along with the security services to ensure terrorists don't succeed and innocent citizens are kept safe. He said: “To date, that's broadly what we've been able to achieve.”

Sources told the Sunday Times: “Right now we are at the very upper end of severe.”

“We could move very quickly to critical,” they added.

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May (Reuters/Daniel Leal-Olivas)

If Britain's threat level were to rise to ‘critical’, this would mean a terrorist attack is imminent, while ‘severe’ denotes an attack is highly likely.

Cameron is concerned the UK could be a victim of an attack similar to those in Paris last week. “We do face a very similar threat in Britain to the threat in France,” he told ITV News. Cameron also claimed security officials had discovered and prevented several plots.

According to MI5 chief Andrew Parker, a group of core Al-Qaida terrorists in Syria are preparing “mass casualty attacks” against Western victims. He claimed on Thursday a terrorist attack in Britain is “highly likely.”

Andrew Parker, the head of MI5 (AFP Photo/Crown Copyright)

Debates continue to rage over the best methods to address and tackle extremist views.

“More money should be invested in the intelligence services to combat the terrorist threat,” said former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said: “The spending priorities of any government are usually a reflection of the values of the population it serves. If that is so, then we have to question the priorities of our country.”

Home Secretary Theresa May has said “security will be tightened” in British airports and transport hubs.