'Be vigilant' - Public warned over terror threat at World Cup 2022 events

Authorities warn the run up to Christmas is always higher risk when it comes to security threats

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The public are being warned to be extra vigilant at World Cup events and in crowded places throughout the festive period, as the threat from terrorism remains "very real" according to counter terror police.

Authorities warn the run up to Christmas is always higher risk when it comes to security threats, although police say there is no specific intelligence of a planned attack.

The public have been warned to be extra vigilant at World Cup events.
The public have been warned to be extra vigilant at World Cup events.

Across the country, as many thousands pack into venues in the days ahead, people are being urged to play their part and report any suspicious activity.

Authorities acknowledge that probably the last thing anyone in a fan zone or pub venue wants to be thinking about is the threat of attack.

But they warn that terrorists will often seek out crowded places, to cause maximum harm.

With a massive programme of events planned for the World Cup, authorities say everyone should be alert to the potential dangers.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Millichap, counter terror policing's Senior National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare told GB News: "Sadly the threat from terrorism does remain very real, and it is vital that we have the support of the public, alongside our own operations and activity.

Since 2017, counter terrorism detectives and the intelligence services have disrupted 37 late-stage terrorist plots in the UK.
Since 2017, counter terrorism detectives and the intelligence services have disrupted 37 late-stage terrorist plots in the UK.

"At this time of year, we naturally see more people heading out and about and with the World Cup featuring on the festive calendar this year, we really need people to be on the ball themselves."

Since 2017, counter terrorism detectives and the intelligence services have disrupted 37 late-stage terrorist plots in the UK.

Across Europe, traditional Christmas markets and other festive events have frequently been targeted by Islamist terrorists.

In Birmingham, the German market has reopened fully for the first time since the pandemic.

Security planners have learned lessons from previous attacks in the UK and aboard, and there are very visible signs of enhanced security throughout the market, including vehicle barriers intended to stop extremists launching a vehicle borne attack.

Visiting the market, Birmingham resident Andrew Lawson said was glad to see normality return to the city this Christmas.

"It's nice to get out and be able to do this again", he said.

He told GB News concerns over security would not put him off heading to public events like this.

"Well you know, we all have to live our lives, like we can't stay at home or wait for something to happen. You just have to live it."

Andy Griffiths and Kelly Collins had their first date at the Birmingham German market three years ago.

Back for the first time since then, they said the obvious security presence did not concern them at all, and actually made them feel far more secure.

Andy said: "We've seen all the security barriers up for years now. It's not an unusual thing to see. And I don't know of anything that's happened here."

England fans will be out in force as the team progresses to the latter stages of the World Cup.
England fans will be out in force as the team progresses to the latter stages of the World Cup.

Kelly added: "I think if you come anywhere where there's gonna be a mass amount of people, you need to plan for anything really. So having security, you feel a bit safer to come in."

In recent months, the terror threat level in the UK has been lowered from Severe to Substantial.

That still means "a terror attack is likely" and although groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been severely degraded by western military activity in recent years, security analysts say they are attempting to regroup.

They have never lost their capacity to radicalise and influence others over the internet.

Every year, counter terror policing receives more than 10,000 reports from the public.

One in five of those reports provides intelligence which investigators describe as "particularly useful."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Millichap said: "The power of public reporting should not be underestimated. It is never a waste of time to speak to us."

Police said that security patrols in towns and cities right across the country would be stepped up in the days and weeks ahead, to help ensure the public could enjoy the remainder of the World Cup and look forward to a safe festive period.