» Monday, July 10, 2006

Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Asked how the government wanted people to respond to elevations of the threat level, the PMOS said that it would depend on the nature of the threat level. We had always said that we would advise the public of any specific threat and any response that was necessary to it. In terms of the public response he was not sure the government had been short of taking and advising the appropriate action. For example there was the action that had been taken at Heathrow, which had been criticised at the time, but it had turned out to be absolutely right. Asked why the public needed to know, the PMOS said that there were times when it was right and proper that the public understood why they were seeing more armed police around Whitehall and why there were more searches and a greater presence on the underground. It was important that people understood that this was not just out of the blue but part of a wider picture. It was also important that people understood the recent operations were not ad hoc but part of a strategic counter insurgency operation. It was important that people understood the context of why a police operation took place. We had made it clear that we believed the level of the current threat to be severe.

In response to the suggestion that a terrorist might postpone his attack because of an increase to the threat warning, the PMOS said that it did not operate like that. The bigger danger was that people did not think there was a serious threat and that they became complacent. The public needed to know when they should be vigilant and alert. Complacency was a risk if the government did not talk openly about the threat level. Asked why intelligence delivered threat assessments not arrests, the PMOS said that intelligence worldwide by its very nature was often fragments of information, not a complete picture.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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