- Officers were told there was now a 'heightened risk' to 'personal safety'
- Told to make sure they cannot be identified as police officers when off duty
- Warning thought to relate to danger of attack similar to Lee Rigby murder
- Coincided with arrest of five men on suspicion of plotting terrorist attack
- Scotland Yard have denied any connection between the two events
Victim: Officers were told there was now a 'heightened risk' to their 'personal safety', a warning that is thought to relate to the danger of an attack similar to the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby, pictured
Police have been told they could be at risk from an extremist plot to behead them on the streets of Britain, it emerged yesterday.
Officers were told there was now a ‘heightened risk’ to their ‘personal safety’, a warning that is thought to relate to the danger of an attack similar to the murder of British Army Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last year.
Sources indicated that it had been issued in response to intercepted terrorist ‘chatter’.
The shocking development coincided with the arrest of five men in West London on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack – although Scotland Yard denied any connection between the two events.
The internal ‘force threat level’ has now been raised from moderate to substantial, the third of five levels of severity, meaning the chance that a terrorist will target an officer is regarded as a ‘strong possibility’.
Staff have been told to make sure that they cannot be identified as members of the police when they are off duty. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: ‘We are informing our officers and staff of the heightened risk and reminding them to remain vigilant and alert to any possible dangers.’
He added: ‘All police forces constantly review their security and safety procedures and this will, of course, continue.
You will see no major changes in the way we continue to police the UK and engage with our communities – our emphasis is on vigilance.’
Scotland Yard is still searching houses in West London as part of the investigation into the five men, aged between 20 and 21 who are being held under the Terrorism Act.
The men have been in custody since Tuesday after counter-terror officers mounted dawn raids to disrupt what they believe to have been the early stages of a ‘significant plot’.
The Met’s counter-terrorism command has examined items seized from their homes, including computer equipment, and is continuing to interview the men, at least one of whom is thought to have travelled to Syria recently.
And the warning comes five weeks after the UK’s terror threat level was raised from substantial to severe – meaning a terrorist attack is ‘highly likely’.