Britanistan: Terror plot to kidnap and kill police push officers not to travel to work in uniforms
West Midlands Police have implemented additional security measures
Move comes after force received anonymous threat to officers and staff
Sky News report the tip involved a plot to kidnap and kill a policeman
Force refuse to comment on specifics of the threat and say it still being assessed
West Midlands Police out on patrol today after a threat to kidnap and murder an officer sparked a major security alert
Police have been told not to travel to work in their uniform after a threat to kidnap and murder an officer sparked a major security alert.
Counter terrorism detectives are probing the anonymous threat that was made to West Midlands Police.
The force called officers and staff in to special briefings overnight and security measures stepped up after they received the tip-off.
Bosses issued them with advice on travelling to and from work in partial uniform as well as being extra vigilant on patrol
The investigation, being lead by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, was described as ‘fast-moving and dynamic.’
Police would not confirm the specific details, but did not deny reports that there had been a threat to kidnap and kill a police officer.
A spokesman said: ‘We are still accessing the information and cannot go into specifics.’
In October the threat level to police officers across Britain was raised to substantial, while the national security level remains at severe meaning a terrorist attack is highly likely.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said there is nothing at this stage to suggest an increased risk to members of the public.
‘West Midlands Police treat all information relating to matters of security extremely seriously, he said.
‘In this particular case we have received information relating to the safety of West Midlands Police officers and police staff.
A spokesman for the force described it as ‘business as usual,’ but confirmed security measures had been stepped up
‘There is nothing at this time to suggest there is an increased risk to members of the public.
THE THREAT TO POLICE AND MILITARY PERSONNEL
The threat posed by fanatics has seen the terror level rise to ‘severe’ in the UK – the second highest state.
The level, which means an attack is highly likely, is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the Security Service (MI5).
Both the police and the British Army have raised the threat against their personnel from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe.’
The decision came as a result of increased ‘terrorist chatter’ about attacks similar to that on Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was killed last year by two fanatics as he walked near his Woolwich barracks.
Drummer Rigby was not wearing his uniform when he was attacked, but a Help for Heroes hooded jumper.
Police chiefs have reportedly warned officers to keep a low profile outside of work, issuing advice on what to wear when travelling to work and urging them to keep social media clean of all personal information.
Military personnel have also been warned not to wear their uniform off barracks or tell strangers that they serve with the British Armed forces.
‘We have taken the opportunity to remind all employees of the need to be vigilant. Our priority remains serving our communities and protecting them from harm. Officers remain on patrol and our staff continue to respond to calls for service as usual.’
The force refused to reveal how they received the information about the threat yesterday/ on Monday.
They said that officers continued to patrol the streets and described it as ‘business as usual.’
Steve White, Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) chairman, said officers faced a daily threat and it was only right that counter terror measures were regularly reviewed.
‘The nature of policing is that day-in, day-out, officers face life-threatening risks,’ said Mr White.
‘When I started my career in policing 26 years ago, the risk was the Provisional IRA and while the new threat is not the same thing it is still about a dynamic risk assessment process.
‘We need to be regularly assessing what we do and the changing issues officers have to face on a day-to-day basis.
‘In recent months the national threat level has remained severe and the threat to police officers substantial. This has not changed.
‘It is important that forces deal with these issues quickly and effectively, increasing awareness for officers so that when they are dealing with a job they are thinking about it more closely, and considering whether it feels right.
‘At the moment we have 16,000 fewer officers but the safety of their troops on the frontline needs to remain a priority.
‘PFEW urges police officers and staff to follow existing policies and good practice to counter terrorism and ensure their own safety.
‘It has always been good practice, regardless of threat level, to avoid wearing uniform and take sensible precautions when travelling to and from work.’
Former West Midlands Police officer Ray Egan, 75, who served on the force from 1967 to 1993, said: ‘I heard a few weeks back that officers had been warned not to travel in partial uniform which was ridiculous as we used to do it all the time.
‘It’s a sign of the times at the minute. We never had anything like this in our day – I can’t believe we have come to this.
‘Its really worrying that our front line officers might not be safe. Its frightening when you think what they did to that solider. It’s terrifying really.’
Reports of the threat comes after five men were charged in October with plotting to kill police officers or soldiers on the streets of London.
Members of the gang allegedly swore allegiance to extremist group Islamic State and scouted out Shepherd’s Bush police station and White City Territorial Army Barracks on a ‘hostile reconnaissance’ mission on Google Street View.
They allegedly kept Instagram images of two Scotland Yard police officers and two Metropolitan Police community support officers, as well as a trove of jihadist material including videos of beheadings.
Former Scotland Yard detective Peter Blecksley said:’I am sure West Midlands Police will be very keen to speak to [the tipster].
‘They will want to really nail down the details of this allegation. I am sure they would love to know the identification of those involved, who they are where they may be from.
‘West Midlands Police is one of the largest around, so they will have all the resources available to a large metropolitan style force to tackle this.
‘There won’t be an officer alone on the streets today, they will operate in pairs and they will want to reassure the people on the street as well as their own officers that they are safe.’
Liberal democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley John Hemming said it was ‘sad’ people wanted to ‘undo the good work of the police.’
‘It is important that every body work with the authorities to ensure that people who wish to cause such harm in their wisdom are prevented from doing so.
‘I have found West Midlands Police work well with all people in the community and it is sad that any one would wish to cause divisions and undermine all the effort they have put in.’
There has also been an outpouring of support on social media for West Midlands Police.
Stella Coppard tweeted: ‘Stay safe and your dedication to protecting everyone is selfless and beyond heroic. You deserve the very best and the public know.’
West Midlands Police has a dedicated Counter Terrorism Unit, based in Birmingham.
It is one of five regional units based across the country that form the counter terrorism policing network.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said further guidance has not been given to Met officers following the incident.
‘I believe it to be an anonymous call that’s been made,’ he said.
‘One of my colleagues has talked to the Chief Constable of West Midlands this morning to find out exactly what the state of that threat is.
‘And once we’ve assessed it, we’ll decide whether or not to give any further advice.’
The Commissioner added that the force tries not to ‘overreact’ in situations like this.
Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson said it is not thought there is any particular threat to police officers in the capital.