SECURITY has been stepped up at British ports as the intelligence services warned the Paris attack provided a “terrible reminder” of the terror threat facing the UK.
A day after the murder of 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, extra measures were put in place on what Downing Street called a “precautionary basis”.
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While there was no change to the UK’s overall terror threat level, the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, said the French attack was a “terrible reminder of the intentions of those who wish us harm”. More cars and lorries were searched on cross-channel routes, and there was a more visible security operation in place at the Eurostar terminal in Paris at Gare du Nord.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The intelligence does not suggest there is any change in the threat level here but on a precautionary basis we have tightened up border security, particularly at our juxtaposed controls.
“For example at ports people going through them will see increased car and truck searches, a bit more scanning of freight.
“They will also see an increased visible presence, for example at our juxtaposed control at Gare du Nord in Paris.
“This is about looking at what we think is appropriate given the incident, but is not based on any change to the threat level.”
An additional police counter-terrorism officer has been sent to Paris to join the British team of experts there, the spokeswoman said.
Professor Anthony Glees, a security expert at the University of Buckingham, said the UK was better prepared for a terrorism threat which France had failed to take seriously.
He said: “I think we can say with a fair degree of certainty that if something like this was being planned in Britain, say against Private Eye or any other newspaper, MI5 and the counter terrorism police would get to know about it at the stage where plans were being hatched and training was taking place and weapons being amassed.
“The problem for the French, in my view, is that they have not taken a series of attacks seriously enough. (There were) three before Christmas on Christmas shoppers. We’re told some 50,000 Jews in France want to emigrate to Israel because they don’t feel safe. The French have shrugged this off, they have been defeatist about it, they have been philosophical about this.
“The French system has failed. Our system, touch wood, has so far had more successes than failures. We believe in good intelligence, in intelligence gathering and interception - all the things the French don’t want to know about.”
The UK’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre raised the terror threat level to severe - the second highest alert - in August, and there has been no change since.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The cowardly attacks that took place in Paris yesterday have shocked and sickened people in the UK and around the world. And they are a reminder of the very serious threat we face from terrorism.
“The UK threat level, which is set by the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, JTAC, remains at severe. That means that a terrorist attack is ‘highly likely’ and the public should remain vigilant.
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