Dave Tapp (Law School), Solicitor.
On Monday 22 people were killed and 59 others injured at the Manchester Arena as direct result of another mindless terrorist attack. The Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that as a direct result of this attack the terror threat level in the United Kingdom has been increased from severe to “critical”. That means that it is believed that an attack is expected “imminently”.
The UK’s international terrorism threat level is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), based in MI5 headquarters in London. This level has only been implemented twice previously in the United Kingdom and not at all for the last 10 years. The first occasion was in 2006 during a major operation to stop a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs and also the following year, after a plot to bomb a London nightclub, before going on to attack Glasgow Airport.
As a result of this decision today, Police officials asked for authorisation from the Secretary of State for Defence to arrange a number of armed military personnel to support their own armed officers. This has now been granted and forms part of Operation Temperer.
Operation Temperer has been specifically created so that armed police officers and the armed forces can work in collaboration in an environment of this nature. The impact of this operation means that Key sites normally protected by armed police officers will now be replaced by hundreds of armed forces personnel instead, allowing the armed police officers to increase their local presence and patrol key locations on our streets. Military personnel may also be deployed in events like sports meetings and concerts in the future.
Members of the public are not specifically required to take any particular actions; these security threat levels are set for the police and other security specialists across various sectors of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) to decide on what security protection level response to be implemented. However it is important to be aware of the 5 different threat levels, which are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack:
LOW means an attack is unlikely.
MODERATE means an attack is possible, but not likely
SUBSTANTIAL means an attack is a strong possibility
SEVERE means an attack is highly likely
CRITICAL means an attack is expected imminently
Terrorists use countless methods of attack, not only explosive devices suspected to have been used at the Manchester arena, but shootings and close quarter attacks, kidnappings, chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) devices and other innovative ways to create fear amongst our society. However, Nonviolent methods are also regularly used, such as gaining access to specific information that may be useful, or through trying to radicalise an individual in an organisation to provide such information that could assist them with an attack.
You can play your part to help prevent terrorism by being alert to possible suspicious activities such as unusual internet activity, financial transactions, purchasing of certain items that could be used as weapons, or materials that could be used to make explosives, unusual behavior at strange times of the day or night, openly radical comments and views being vocalised, or the people you have known for a while who may start behaving differently from how they have always acted previously.
If you genuinely believe that something is suspicious, use your instinct and inform the police, they will investigate your hunch and you never know you may be providing that vital link to an operation or an arrest that prevents another atrocity.
Remember, you should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and report any suspicious activity, as with any other serious crime.
If you have information about possible terrorist activity, please call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. The Anti-Terrorist Hotline is for tip-offs and confidential information. For warnings about possible bombs or other urgent threats please call 999.