There is an increased visible presence of armed policemen in London Underground and other public places after a new operation was launched on Wednesday by the head of Scotland Yard, who believes a terror attack is a matter of ‘when, not if’.
In the second major statement this week, Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police responsible for policing London, said ‘Operation Hercules’ had begun, in which additional firearms officers are deployed in visible roles in the capital.
Hogan-Howe said: “Anyone who's been following events in Europe over the past few weeks will understand why we want to show our determination to protect the public. We are deadly serious about the protection that we are offering the people of London and we will never be complacent”.
“Despite the fact they are carrying guns they are still police officers and I want the public to approach and talk to them, they are out on our streets to reassure and help the public. Equally important in how we protect our capital is the relationship that our mainly unarmed officers have built with communities over many years”.
The Yard said in a statement the operation is not based on any specific intelligence but is a long-term response to best use the increasing number of armed officers to make London as hostile an environment as possible for any would-be attacker.
“That means the locations, types of tactics and the numbers of officers deployed at once will continually change to be most effective and avoid predictability”, it said.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said: "The threat level here in London has not changed, but it does remain at severe and especially in light of recent deadly attacks in Europe it is important we are prepared should the unthinkable happen”.
"We will see more armed officers on our streets, but there is no reason to be alarmed. All of our police officers are playing their part and working closely with all of our communities to prevent the possibility of an attack”, he added.