The terrorism threat to Britain has “palpably increased” and more attacks are actively being planned, London’s police chief warned on Friday, a year after suicide bombers struck in the capital killing 52 people.
Speaking on the anniversary of the first suicide bomb attacks in western Europe, carried out by four young British Islamists, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said there was a danger from militants at home and from abroad.
“There are as we speak people in the United Kingdom planning further atrocities,” he told BBC radio.
“The threat is very grim. Since (last) July, the threat has palpably increased. I fear we have to accept that we live in an age when the threat of an attack getting through is very real.”
Blair’s message echoed that of the head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch Peter Clarke who spoke earlier in the week of a “sinister” intelligence picture, adding there were 70 active investigations in operation.
Both men said at least three “serious conspiracies” had been thwarted since last July 21 when police accuse four men of trying to carry out copycat attacks of the bombings two weeks earlier.
However, despite his sombre message, Blair vowed that London would survive the bombings and not be bowed by the threat.
“We must not let the terrorists win under any circumstances by changing and being fearful,” he said.
Police have been heavily criticised for the fatal shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes the day after the events of July 21 and for last month’s raid in Forest Gate, east London, when another innocent man was shot during a major raid.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating Blair himself over the police’s response to the de Menezes shooting after the Brazilian’s family claimed he had misled the public in statements to the media.
Blair said on Friday he had not yet been interviewed by the IPCC probe team, adding he did not expect he would have to resign over the inquiry.
“I do not believe that I will have to reconsider my position,” he said.