Two years of severe terror threat ahead – after 12 plots are foiled in the past 12 months
Security forces have foiled 12 plots in the last year – plus a further four from the growing menace of right-wing extremism.
And they believe the danger could increase even further in the coming months.
The alert was raised as the Government prepares to unveil a strengthened counter-terrorism strategy this week.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has reviewed powers after five attacks last year and will tomorrow announce a range of steps to stop further atrocities.
Security agencies are also confronting a rising risk from extreme right-wing violence as the potential sources of attacks becomes more diverse.
Plans to share information held by MI5 more widely across Government and local agencies are expected to be included in the blueprint.
The Home Office said: “In summary, we expect the threat from Islamist terrorism to remain at its current, heightened level for at least the next two years, and that it may increase further.
“We assess the threat from extreme right-wing terrorism is growing.
“Globally, terrorist groups and networks of all ideologies continue to develop organically, exploiting social media, technology and science to further their aims and ambitions.”
MI5 and police are running more than 500 live operations involving roughly 3,000 “subjects of interest” at any one time.
In addition, there are 20,000 people who have previously been investigated and could again pose a threat.
Security chiefs are particularly concerned about the potential risk of individuals in the larger group being rapidly radicalised to the point of violence before the shift is detected.
Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was categorised as a “closed subject of interest” at the time of his attack.
New measures will include plans for MI5 to share intelligence more widely and work with partners such as local councils on how best to manage the risk posed by closed subjects of interest.
Other areas likely to be covered in the strategy are efforts to improve the use of data by police and MI5, a new approach to managing the far-right threat, and increases to maximum sentences for some terror-related offences.
Mr Javid, who will attend a memorial service to mark the anniversary of the London Bridge attack today, said: “The Government is absolutely committed to doing everything possible to tackle the terrorist threat. It is my first priority every day in this job.
“We are working with the police, intelligence and security agencies, the private and public sector and international partners to make sure we have the best plans in place. I will be speaking about those plans in detail tomorrow when we publish our strengthened counter-terrorism strategy.
“But ultimately the strongest response is not just what we do, but who we are. The best way to stop terrorists achieving their aims is to stand by our values of tolerance, fairness and go out about our lives.”
Yesterday a senior counter-terror officer warned that attack plots are being thwarted “all the time”.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon urged the public to remain watchful as the UK threat level remains at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Mr Haydon, the senior national coordinator for counter-terror policing, said: “I’d encourage all members of the public to remain vigilant.
“The police and security services are working extremely hard, foiling and disrupting terrorist attacks all the time.
“The terror threat level has gone to critical on two occasions, on the back of the Manchester and Parsons Green attacks, but we’re currently at severe, which means an attack is highly likely.”
British spies have disrupted terror plots at a rate of roughly one per month over the past year, MI5 head Andrew Parker said recently.
Mr Haydon’s comments come as survivors of the London Bridge atrocity are to be joined by bereaved families, emergency service staff and politicians for a remembrance service at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday.
In tribute, candles will be lit by victims’ relatives before an olive tree, called the Tree of Healing, is planted in the cathedral grounds using compost from flowers left on the bridge after the murders.
Elsewhere Margaret Gilmore, a senior national security analyst, told Sky News although Islamic State was suffering in Syria and Iraq, it still poses a threat in persuading fanatics to carry out attacks in the West.
The attacks on the bridge and Borough Market killed eight and wounded almost 50 people on June 3 last year.
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