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Met Police chief: It's 'when not if' terrorists strike again

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe says it is inevitable that terrorists will strike again, but praised surveillance and intelligence for thwarting attacks, such as those planned in Shepherd's Bush and White City

Sir Bernard on terror attack - 'It's a case of when not if'

London’s most senior police officer says it is a matter of “when not if” terrorists strike again.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the threat from terrorism is “very real” but said his officers had helped foil a number of planned attacks, including one in Shepherd’s Bush and White City .

Addressing the recent horrors in France and Germany, the UK’s highest ranking police officer acknowledges “a greater sense of fear that Britain will be the next victim in this wave of cruel and mindless mass murder”.

He said: “I feel and understand that fear and as the police officer in charge of preventing such an attack know that you want me to reassure you. I am afraid I cannot do that entirely...

“Our threat level has been at ‘Severe’ for two years - it remains there. It means an attack is highly likely - you could say it is a case of when not if.”

However, he says since the death of soldier Lee Rigby , killed near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich in 2013, countless terrorist attacks have been thwarted.

He said: “I know that you so often ask of yourselves, your loved ones and friends - why and how has it not happened here yet? What are we doing to prevent it? How will the police protect me when it does?

“I can point to the plots we have foiled, including terrorists who we have put behind bars after we foiled their advanced plans to murder police officers leaving Shepherd’s Bush police station to walk their beats.”

He said the relationship between the police, MI5 and MI6 was a “world-beater” which has given the UK an intelligence advantage, and said the nation’s gun control laws helped make it difficult for terrorists.

He also said that the “British way of life and culture” made the UK hostile to terrorists and praised the fact most British police are unarmed. This gave the public a healthier relationship with officers, helping neighbourhood officers become the nation’s eyes and ears.

Sir Bernard also praised the UK’s tolerance and acceptance: “Our approach to Muslims is no different because these attacks purport to be committed in the name of Islam. We don’t stigmatise the millions of British Muslims whose values and faith completely reject the terrorists’ litany of hate.

“We are a nation that accepts difference but builds communities with shared values. We should be proud of that.”

There had also been an increase in firearms officers from 600 to 2,800 since to tackle terrorist threats since the Paris attacks in November last year, has risen from 600 to 2,800, he added.

Tarik Hassane, from Ladbroke Grove , and Suhaib Majeed, from Marylebone , were each given life sentences in April after their plot to gun down British soldiers, police officers and members of the public from in drive-by shootings.

Two others from Paddington and Notting Hill were also jailed for the plot, which saw the men research key locations in Shepherd's Bush and White City.

Sir Bernard reacts to the terror attack in Paris

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