Matt Jukes, Assistant Commissioner with the Met Police, called for vigilance in the build-up to Christmas and through the festive season as security is reviewed for major events.
He warned of a rising number of referrals over far-right extremism, with some young people drawn into discussions online, even as the threat over Islamism remains.
Teams had 800 live investigations underway and had disrupted seven plots in the past year, he said, with one in five reports from the public proving valuable.
AC Jukes said: “The one change that everybody can make is to be increasingly vigilant. Oftentime it’s a family member, a friend or a neighbour, who can spot a change in behaviour that might be the signal towards a terrorist attack.”
With the terror threat now raised to severe after the blast outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital and following the murder of MP Sir David Amess, he urged people to “trust their instincts”.
He said the raising of the threat level means an attack is now “highly likely”, with past experience showing crowded places have proved a "target”.
While he urged people not to be alarmed, he added that security reviews had been undertaken of city spaces nationwide. “What we have seen is that when terror attacks take place in quick succession there is an increased threat. People can be emboldened by these events,” he said.
“We are entering the festive season, the first that might feel normal in a couple of years. It’s a time of real focus but also a time when we reach out to the public to play their part. We do know that the places where people gather in large numbers, inside or increasingly outside large spaces, have been targets for terrorists in recent years.”
Figures show that extreme right-wing ideology has overtaken Islamism as the biggest cause of referrals to the Government’s anti-radicalisation programme for the first time. AC Jukes said far-right extremism was a rising threat, as seen in the murder of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox and evidenced in posters as a form of hate crime in some communities.
“What we see most of all in terms of movement is young people in particular towards the far right as they are exposed to matter,” he said. ""It's hugely important to have conversations, in schools and in families, about the ideas that are present online."
Counter-terrorism police have made contact with all members of the UK parliament in offering the opportunity to review security arrangements, the Assistant Commissioner also confirmed.
Many MPs had raised concerns over their safety following the murder last month of MP Sir David Amess, citing examples of online harassment or threats.
AC Jukes, acknowledging concerns, said all MPs had now been contacted with major review was underway “A major line of enquiry for us is determining if there are any direct threats to MPs,” he added.
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