Police are demanding to be allowed to patrol in pairs because they fear fanatics are planning to murder an officer on the street – in a horrific echo of the killing of soldier Lee Rigby last year.
Frontline officers in London feel increasingly at risk as they take to the streets by themselves in cars or on the beat because of the danger of a jihadi attack. Some also want the right to carry protective equipment such as CS spray and batons when they go off-duty, over concerns they could be targeted as they leave stations at night.
Senior figures in the Police Federation have met counter-terror chiefs to voice their members’ fears after alleged terrorists were accused of plotting to shoot officers after carrying out surveillance of their station.
But chiefs have refused requests to increase protection and are calling on officers to be more vigilant in the face of higher risk levels.
In a further sign of the heightened security situation in Britain, the first ‘counter-terrorism awareness week’ will be launched tomorrow with more police on duty at shopping centres and airports as well as providing advice on how the public can spot potential radicals.
Former Scotland Yard detective Chris Hobbs told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘Frontline police officers in London are fearful they could become victims of savage targeted attacks on the streets of the capital by fanatical Islamist jihadists. Officers are concerned that other than receiving “stay vigilant” advice they are not being kept fully informed of events in relation to the very real threats to their own safety or being afforded additional protection.’
It was standard practice for police to go on the beat in pairs but in recent years chiefs have changed to single crewing as budget cuts have led to the loss of 15,000 jobs since the last Election.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: ‘Officer safety is of utmost importance and the position will remain under constant review.’