Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has praised the response of civil servants and other public sector workers following the terrorist attack in the Manchester Arena.
In a statement to civil servants seen by Civil Service World, Heywood said “we have all been shocked by the terror attack aimed at our fellow citizens in Manchester”.
He said that many civil servants will know people caught up in the events at Manchester Arena, where suicide bomber Salman Ramadan Abedi blew himself up, killing 22 people. Civil servants will have the full support of their departments during this time, Heywood added.
“Once again, the police and emergency services, paramedics, doctors and nurses responded quickly and bravely to come to the assistance of the injured,” Heywood stated. “Their commitment and courage were matched by the generosity of members of the public helping those caught up in the attack and its aftermath.
“As civil servants, we have a responsibility to continue our work and help maintain the resilience of our public services. This is the best response to those who threaten our way of life, and I have been inspired by the dedication of civil servants in Manchester and the whole of the UK who are doing just that.”
He added that as the police and security agencies investigate the attack there will inevitably be disruption to transport and movement around Manchester, but called on everyone to continue to go about their normal business as best they can.
Heywood’s statement came as prime minister Theresa May chaired a second COBRA meeting on the Manchester attack and announced last night the threat level had been raised from severe to critical.
This was the result of analysis of the threat level from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which independently sets the level based on an analysis of the intelligence available.
“This means that their assessment is not only that an attack remains highly likely, but that a further attack may be imminent,” the prime minister said.
“The change in the threat level means that there will be additional resources and support made available to the police as they work to keep us all safe.”
As a result of the JTAC decision, the police have asked for authorisation from the defence secretary Michael Fallon for additional support from the army under a plan known as Operation Temperer.
“This means that armed police officers responsible for duties such as guarding key sites will be replaced by members of the armed forces, which will allow the police to significantly increase the number of armed officers on patrol in key locations,” May said.
May confirmed the details of the attack: 22 people were killed in the attack when Abedi blew himself up outside the concert venue on Monday night. In addition, 59 people remain injured, and many of them have life-threatening conditions.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them all,” she said. “I want to reiterate what I said this morning about the professionalism of the emergency services and the bravery of the people of Manchester. Through their actions, they proved that cowardice will always be defeated by bravery, that evil can be overcome by good, and that our values - the liberal, pluralistic values of Britain – will always prevail over the hateful ideology of the terrorists.”
Following the attacks, general election campaigning has been suspended.