Top counter-terrorism officer tells music executives to take extra security measures in run-up to festival season
Music fans and nightclubbers could be the target of the next major terrorist attack in Britain, a top counter-terrorism officer has warned ahead of the country’s festival season.
Music executives were invited alongside Premier League football bosses to a recent anti-terrorism briefing at Wembley stadium to hear the warning from Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan police, who is in charge of the country’s protective security.
Many stadiums already have strict security measures in place to protect against the risk of terrorist attacks. But, Basu said in an interview with the Sunday Times, there were concerns over the risk to the night-time economy.
“I’d want to see the owners and event managers taking the same kind of security precautions,” he was quoted as saying.
Glastonbury, the world’s largest music festival, is expected to draw about 135,000 people to Worthy Farm in Somerset next month, with many more expected to fill parks and green spaces for music events throughout the summer.
But after the attacks in Paris last November, where terrorists attacked revellers on the streets and in a concert venue and attempted to bomb the Stade de France, Basu warned that crowded entertainment events were a priority for police.
“These people are perfectly happy to target civilians with the maximum terror impact,” he said. “Crowded places were always a concern for us, but now they are right at the top of the agenda.”
Stadiums and music events were particularly vulnerable due to the high concentrations of people, but music festivals were particularly hard to control and secure because of their larger perimeters, Basu said.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, announced on Friday that he had launched a review of the capital’s ability to tackle a major terrorist incident that will investigate how emergency services would cope if extremists launched simultaneous attacks, such as those that hit Paris last year.
But elsewhere in the country, particularly in rural areas that host some of the country’s largest summer festivals, forces are warning they could be “sitting ducks” in the face of a terrorist attack as they wait for armed officers to arrive from as far as 70 miles away.
Meanwhile, the government’s overall counter-extremism strategy has been mired in controversy after it was suggested that it could actually fuel terrorism by alienating communities. A counter-extremism bill unveiled in the Queen’s speech has been criticised for failing to define extremism, while the police lead on anti-radicalisation has said government plans risk turning British officers into a “thought police”.