British music festivals, sporting venues and nightclubs are on “high alert” for potential Islamic State (IS) suicide attacks, a senior anti-terror police officer has revealed.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu pointed out that the Paris attackers had photographed stadiums and potential targets in the UK, and said such venues and “crowded places” were a major concern of policing efforts this summer.
He told the Sunday Times: “These people are perfectly happy to target civilians with the maximum terror impact. Crowded places were always a concern for us, but now they are right at the top of the agenda.”
Adding: “The threat has become much more difficult [to counter] because it’s now potentially any time, any place, anywhere”.
Mr. Basu has served with the Met for 24 years. He is in charge of the country’s protective security and is a spokesman on anti-terrorist protection for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
His stark warning comes after IS terrorists attacked a football stadium and rock concert in Paris last year, and ahead of the European football championships in France.
The Paris Attacks had “put everyone on much higher alert”, he said, before explaining why stadiums and big events are so vulnerable: “This is where you put a small town into a small area for a couple of hours.”
“[The organisers] of music festivals are invited because they tend to have one big stage with high perimeter security. It’s kind of the equivalent [to a stadium], but even harder to control because their perimeters are much larger,” he added.
Mr. Basu also confirmed there was no specific intelligence to suggest an imminent attack on a sporting arena or music festival.
He pointed out, however, that “Members of the Paris terrorist cell are known to have visited Britain last summer and photographs of a football stadium in Birmingham were found on a key plotter’s smartphone.”