Scotland Yard’s senior-most Indian-origin officer has put music festivals, sporting venues and nightclubs in the UK on terror alert, noting that such venues could be the target of the next major attack.
Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police and in charge of protective security, said crowded entertainment events and venues were at the top of the agenda after the Paris attacks last November, which killed 130 people.
“This (large venues) is where you put a small town into a small area for a couple of hours. That’s exactly the same with large concert venues and much harder (to safeguard) with a large open-air festival,” he told The Times.
He added: “The threat has become much more difficult (to counter) because it’s now potentially any time, any place, anywhere.
“These people (terrorists) 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.”
Basu said there was no specific intelligence to suggest an imminent attack on a sporting arena or music festival.
However, 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.
Basu met sports chiefs, including Premier League bosses and music executives, at an anti-terrorism briefing at Wembley stadium last week to drive home the importance of good security at venues.
“(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 said.
Basu also recently travelled to France to be briefed on security for the European championship Euro 2016 next month.