The Prime Minister outlined new anti-terror proposals to Parliament on Monday amid a heightened terror threat from British fighters returning from Iraq and Syria.
Last week, David Cameron upgraded the threat of a terrorist attack in the UK from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’, meaning Islamist terrorists are ‘highly likely’ to attack the UK.
The increase in alert comes as the self-declared Syrian and Iranian state ISIS battles with western forces in the Middle East.
With Brits heading to the country to take up arms, the Government has warned of the threat they pose when they return.
The security boost also comes on the back of the death of US journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by a British jihadist known as John, an attack that Cameron claimed ‘sickened and shocked’ the world.
The PM announced new legislation allowing police to confiscate passports of suspects at UK borders and insisted that the UK will challenge any attempt by the courts dilute the powers.
In a bid to tackle the escalating threat, powers to tackle terrorists will be extended to include the power to relocate suspects and force them to attend de-radicalisation programmes
Airlines will also be required to share more information about passengers travelling to and from conflict zones.
MM went out into Manchester to ask how people felt about their own safety in light of the change in alert status.
Do you feel less safe since the terror threat level was raised to severe?
The responses told us, that by quite a large margin, the upgrading of the terror threat level had very little impact on people’s concerns about their personal safety.
Only 19% of people surveyed in Manchester said they felt less safe with the increased terror level.
The overwhelming majority dismissed the notion that the new threat assessment increased their fears about a terrorist attack.
Matt Tansey, 53, a bicycle courier from Chorley, didn’t believe that the news had made him any more vigilant, he said: “It doesn’t matter where the level is at, the threat will always be there.”
Lecturer Usman Talat, 34, of Hale Village, agreed with him and said: “The concept of terrorism has been around for so long, you don’t feel it personally every day.”
There were those who told Mancunian Matters that they were more worried thanks to the heightened terror threat.
Lesley Thompson, a Journalist from Blackburn, 40, said although she herself wasn’t overly concerned herself, it had affected her family.
She said: “I’ve heard my children talking about it and they said they were a bit worried when they heard it was ‘severe’.”
“You’re naturally going to be more cautious in your daily life when you see something like that on the news,” said 17-year-old student Jay Richardson, from Bolton, who shared Lesley’s concern.
Retired Dee Hadrill, a Mancunian now living in Rhyl, 71, recalled the IRA attack on the city in 1996, and said: “Having seen the last terrorist incident in Manchester, it’s always going to be scary when you’re out and about.”
Robert Price, 48, a designer from Manchester, also referenced the bombing, but felt differently.
“I lived through the IRA attack and the news still doesn’t bother me. I get the impression it’s a political thing rather than a real threat to anyone,” he said.
Charity worker Megan Raybould, 21, from Newcastle, was likewise suspicious about the reasoning behind the increase in threat level.
“I don’t think it’s just a case of there being more of a risk of terrorism, I think there are other reasons why the government wants to do this,” she said.
Michael Small, 54, a railway worker from Birkenhead, insisted he was reassured by a strong police presence.
He said: “When you see all the police about, you’re not going to be as worried about it, but there’s a danger no matter what.”
Some were more relaxed about the prospect of an attack.
Lynn Bace, 43, a Training Manager originally from Essex, told MM: “I go in and out of London quite a lot and it doesn’t bother me
“If an attack happens, it happens. So what’s the use in worrying about it?”
Business Director Lesley Thompson, 37, from Manchester’s Northern Quarter said: “We hear about them changing the level all the time, I don’t really consider myself in too much danger because the level goes down as well as up.”
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