Police told to brace for Covid disorder and possible terrorism as UK’s terror threat rises to severe

Police and councils all over the country are being told to prepare for a “perfect storm” as lockdown measures are implemented on Thursday (5 November) and the UK’s terror threat level rises to “severe”.

The government has asked for a review of local contingency plans to make sure that agencies like the police and local authorities are as prepared as they can be for a combination of factors which could cause major disruption.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Experts have warned of a “perfect storm” winter crisis, with a number of new major issues likely to add to the strain caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Has the terror threat level increased?

It was announced earlier this week that the UK’s terrorism threat level has been raised from “substantial” to “severe” in light of recent terror attacks in Paris, Nice and Vienna.

Experts fear that other extremists could be galvanised into launching their own attacks after those that have rocked Europe, though Home Secretary Priti Patel said the change in threat level is not based on any “specific threat”.

What else might happen?

Plans have been reviewed for dealing with extra pressure on the NHS due to winter flu, floods caused by forecasted bad weather, shortages relating to Brexit, and an uptick in cyber and potential terror attacks.

There are also concerns that frustration with the re-introduced lockdown measures could fuel a wave of civil unrest, despite a ban on public gatherings.

Local resilience forums, which are groups made up of multiple different agencies like emergency services, the NHS and councils, have been asked to assess their ability to deal with any and all of these potential issues.

Speaking to the Telegraph, a senior police source said: "What local resilience forums need to do is to make sure we are as prepared as we can be and whether or not we have the infrastructure and ability to meet all these problems at the same time.

"Covid-19, winter flu, Brexit, the potential for a counter-terrorism event like in France or Austria, then storms as we had in the South West, and cyber attacks that have been taking place over the last few weeks are the ones that have been highlighted."