Scotland Yard to use SAS-style units to counter terrorist threat

SAS-style units of armed officers are to be dispersed into Britain to counter the rising threats of terror in the country.


UK police plans to train SAS-style elite forces to counter terror attacks. (File photo)

The new move by Scotland Yard will see 130 counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs) train with army special forces to prepare for fast-roping from helicopters and storming burning buildings to rescue hostages in potential terrorist attacks.

The unit will be learning from previous incidents such as the Mumbai attacks in 2008 as well as the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi two years ago while also learning from last week’s beach massacre in Tunisia.

The new plans will kick off with the biggest ever counter-terrorism exercise in London, involving emergency services ranging from the police to fire fighters this Tuesday.

This comes as Prime Minister, David Cameron warned of an imminent terrorist attack on British soil following the Tunisian massacre last Friday. In a speech responding to the attacks he said "There are people in Iraq and Syria who are plotting to carry out terrible acts in Britain and elsewhere and as long as ISIL exists in those two countries, we are at threat," Cameron told the state-run BBC.

"It is an existential threat because what is happening here is the perversion of a great religion and the creation of this poisonous death cult is seducing too many young minds,” he added.

Reports suggest the unit is commanded to use minimum force when faced with a potential attacker and will be subject to criminal law in all circumstances. A senior police source ensured the unit has far less power than military soldiers and they are there to neutralise attacks only. “We’re police officers, not soldiers. We’re not at war. Our job is to arrest people,” the source said.

Following the Tunisian massacre, which was described as the single worst assault on UK nationals since the bombing of the London underground in 2005, Britain’s terror threat has been increased to "severe" suggesting an attack is "highly likely."

In May, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley, said: “Our discussions over the next few months in terms of the spending rounds … around counter-terrorism, will make the point it’s not simply about the counter-terrorism network enforcement, it’s about the strength of those other elements of policing.”