Britain plans to recruit hundreds of additional armed law enforcement from across the country over the next two years to bolster its domestic anti-terror efforts, a new report says. The plans come amid a heightened terror threat across Europe and just one week after Brussels was hit with separate, coordinated attacks at an airport and a subway station that killed at least 32 people and wounded hundreds more.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plans Thursday in Washington, where he was attending the annual Nuclear Security Summit. “Our police and intelligence agencies work round the clock to keep us safe, and it is absolutely vital that we support them with the right resources and kit," Cameron said, the Telegraph reported. "After the terrorist attacks in France last year, we decided to look at whether there was more we could do to protect people from the type of terrorist threat we now face. That’s why we are increasing the number of specially trained armed officers up and down the country to make sure the police have greater capability to respond swiftly and effectively should they need to do so.”
As many as 900 additional officers could join the existing police forces.
"This additional uplift will ensure we are in an even stronger position to respond quickly and effectively to protect the public," Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Armed Policing, said Thursday.
Increased security at British airports was already announced this week as part of an effort to fortify "soft targets" in easily accessible public areas, the Express reported. Those changes to airport security are expected to include more armed officers and bomb-sniffing dogs, but the idea of placing metal detectors and additional scanning technology at airport entrances had not been agreed upon as yet.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both the Brussels attacks and those in Paris last November. A person who authorities believe is British and pledged allegiance to the terror organization commonly known as ISIS posted a video on social media following the Brussels attacks and threatened a similar attack on Gatwick Airport outside London, reported the Daily Mail.
It was not immediately clear how credible that threat was, but it was perhaps an indication that Britain could be in the crosshairs of ISIS. "If someone's threatening airports, you've got to check it out just in case this person turns out to be someone who is serious," Raffaello Pantucci, director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, told the Daily Mail.