Britain's top terror cop issues Christmas warning over 'lone wolf' attacks

17 November 2021, 15:10 | Updated: 17 November 2021, 20:39

AC Jukes warned the public to be vigilant now lockdown is over and the Christmas festivities have started
AC Jukes warned the public to be vigilant now lockdown is over and the Christmas festivities have started. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Britain's top anti-terror cop has warned the public to be "vigilant" ahead of the Christmas celebrations following the Liverpool bombing.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Met's Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes said there is a "particular concern" about terrorist attacks now that the UK is getting back to pre-Covid life, and as festivities commence.

He told LBC there was "no doubt" people have been radicalised and managed to get lethal instructions by spending more time online while ordered to stay at home.

There has long been concern that lockdown could make the terror threat to the UK worse if would-be attackers spent more time on the internet.

Now, Britain can expect to see more police on patrol in key areas, including armed officers.

AC Jukes, who heads up Counter Terrorism Policing, told LBC: "We're very concerned about those people who've found their radicalisation, their inspiration and also some instruction online.

Read more: Pictured: 'Christian convert' refugee who died in Liverpool Poppy Day terror attack

Read more: Liverpool bomber 'exploited' asylum loophole to stay in UK - Home Sec

"We've spent a lot of time trying to tackle that. That's happened more during the lockdown period, no doubt because people have spent more time online.

"And then we've also seen some of the services that would have supported people, mental health services for example, have not been able to be wrapped around people in quite the same way as they would have been.

"We see, sadly, many young people also affected by some of those influences and so they have been at school less during the last 18 months to two years.

"So there is a particular concern for us at the moment as we exit the lockdown period, and of course as communities come back to celebrating the festive season, we're about to go into a really important time for people to be vigilant, to know that if they see something unusual they absolutely should trust their instincts and call us."

His comments follow the attempted Liverpool Remembrance Sunday attack, in which a homemade bomb was set off in a taxi.

The device went off in the car park of Liverpool Women's Hospital but only Emad Al Swealmeen, the attacker, died in the incident.

Counter terror police are investigating.

Meanwhile, the death of Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP who was stabbed multiple times last month, has been treated as a terror incident.

AC Jukes said that "when attacks take place in close succession... they can serve sometimes to encourage or embolden others, so it's not uncommon after attacks in close proximity to see the threat level increase".

He added: "What it means really for policing is a change of posture for us at major events, in major public locations you'll see more visible policing, in some of those locations more armed policing."