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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Police chief issues London terror alert
Bomb damage at Canary Wharf in 1995
London's financial centres have been attacked before
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens has said London is a top terrorist target as police numbers on the street are boosted by 1,500.

Sir John said there was "no specific threat" to London but insisted that the capital had to remain vigilant as it could be the next target for terror attacks.

Police numbers "on the street" in London were boosted by 1,000 after last Tuesday's US atrocities but then reduced to 300 extra in the light of "intelligence reports" in recent days.


Any city as large and as prestigious as London will always be a potential target for terrorists

Sir John Stevens
Metropolitan Police
But Sir John said extra numbers would go up to 1,500 over the weekend

"There is now a need over the weekend, because of religious festivals and the feeling in certain communities that they need protection and for general protection of London, to up the numbers."

He told BBC News that London remained an obvious target for terror attacks of any description and that residents had to get used to it.

"We have to accept that London is a major capital city in the world. [It is] another massive financial centre.

Plane attacks

"[It is] always a target for Northern Ireland terrorists and we have been at the highest alert for the longest period London has ever been. And it will also be a target for other groups."

Sir John denied that there was a threat to London in the form of suicide plane attacks.

Sir John Stevens
Sir John Stevens has 28 officers in the US
But he admitted: "Any city as large and as prestigious as London will always be a potential target for terrorists.

"What we are doing is ensuring everything possible can be done to protect this city."

The commissioner paid tribute to Londoners behaviour during the aftermath of the US attacks.

Watching brief

"It shows what they are made of. Business has been as usual in the most difficult of circumstances."

He said police and security services were "keeping a watching brief" with a daily assessment of threats.


We are looking at every word that's been uttered by people to see if an offence has been committed

Sir John Stevens
On London's Islamic fundamentalists
"We have had to beef up the casualty bureau. We have in the region of 28 officers in New York, consisting of Metropolitan anti-terrorist officers and officers from other forces."

The Metropolitan Police are also closely monitoring Islamic fundamentalist groups in London, the Evening Standard newspaper reported.

They quoted Sir John as telling a police authority meeting: "The security doesn't have the ability to enforce the law or arrest people.

"We do and we are looking at every word that's been uttered by people to see if an offence has been committed."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"In London all police leave is cancelled"
Judith Mayhew from the Corporation of London
"We have very high levels of security in the city"
See also:

21 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Terror attacks: Lib Dem views
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