London: Britain was just "days away" from a terrorist attack similar to the recent siege in a Sydney cafe before Scotland Yard foiled it, the head of the Metropolitan Police said today.
Scotland Yard foiled a terrorist attack along the lines of the siege of a Sydney cafe in Australia earlier this week which resulted in three deaths, said Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.
Bernard also disclosed that five terror plots in London have been foiled in the last four months alone, and demanded an extra 50 million pounds to fund counter-terror operations.
"There are people out there who are dangerous and that's why we keep arresting them because we need to stop them hurting people," Bernard told LBC Radio in an interview.
"It's clear [that in Sydney] you've got a radicalised individual who had a weapon and took many people hostage. That is a terrifying prospect and very difficult to guard against. The best defence we all have is good intelligence," he said.
"You could argue much closer. I'm acknowledging days. Very, very close," Bernard responded when asked if these "dangerous" people were weeks away from carrying out an attack in the UK.
The UK government last month said that it was making available an extra 130 million pounds over the next two years for the security services so they can "monitor and disrupt those self-starting terrorists".
But Bernard said that more money was needed because pursuing and prosecuting terrorists was like trying to track a "needle in a haystack".
"Have we got enough resources? Well we have asked the government for more help. We are losing money, but in this area we have got to invest so we have asked for around 50 million pounds for across the country. We are waiting for an answer on that. We need it," Bernard said.
"When we arrest them what we have found is we are seizing huge amounts of digital evidence, computers, laptops, all the things we all have. Sometimes you are looking for a needle in a haystack. The last job we had 10 haystacks and weren't sure which one the needle was in. It's really hard. So we are getting backlogs in the digital retrieval," he added.
Several people, including an Indian techie, were taken hostage by an armed man at a popular cafe in Sydney and forced to display an Islamic flag, triggering a security alert in Australia and leading to evacuation of key buildings, including the Indian Consulate.