Empty streets make spies’ jobs harder, says MI5 chief #Breaking112


Near-empty streets caused by fewer people traveling into city centers can make it difficult for Britain’s spies to track suspects, the new head of MI5, the UK’s domestic security service, has said.

Ken McCallum told journalists Wednesday that his agents have adjusted the way they work as a result of the coronavirus crisis, after crowds thinned in public spaces.

“You wouldn’t expect me to get into detail, but common sense will tell you that covert surveillance is not straightforward on near-empty streets,” McCallum said while addressing the impact of the events of 2020 on the intelligence agency.

“Our people are showing huge dedication and imagination in continuing to provide the essential service the country needs from us; while, like everyone else, bearing the strain on their families and wider lives,” he said.

In his first engagement with reporters since taking the job in March, McCallum also said terrorists have adjusted their targets as a result of the pandemic.

30% of UK terror plots disrupted by MI5 were far right, says security chief

“The big shifts in everyone’s lives — reduced travel, more online, and the rest — mean shifts in how our adversaries are operating,” he said. “Fewer crowds mean terrorists look at different targets; online living means more opportunities for cyber hackers; and so on.”

Britain went into lockdown in March, with usually busy streets falling empty and the London Underground network carrying a fraction of its usual passengers.

Crowds have since returned to most British cities, albeit under stricter restrictions and with a 10 p.m. curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants in England.

McCallum also revealed that nearly 30% of the major terror plots it has disrupted at a late stage since 2017 have been from far right extremists. He warned that the pan-European threat from the far right was increasing with “bitty, but meaningful international connectivity.”

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