The UK is increasingly at risk of mass casualty terror attacks, as the so-called Islamic State switches its intent towards targeting Western lifestyles, according to the country's head of counter-terrorism policing.

Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said recent terror attacks in Paris, the bombing of a Russia-bound passenger plane over Egypt and the attempt to bring down another airliner in Somalia, demonstrated a broadening of the terror group's ambition.

The Assistant Commissioner said that in the UK over the past few years, the Islamist group has called on would-be jihadis to attack police and the military, but now their plans had evolved to attack "Western lifestyles".

Mr Rowley said: "In recent months we've seen a broadening of that, much more plans to attack Western lifestyle, and obviously the Paris attacks in November. Going from that narrow focus on police and military as symbols of the state to something much broader.

"And you see a terrorist group which has big ambitions for enormous and spectacular attacks, not just the types that we've seen foiled to date."

He warned that ISIS was now attempting to get supporters who have received military training in Syria into northern Europe to stage attacks.

The counter-terror boss said the "shared effort to look for any possible links of those networks or other networks that have reached the UK is obviously a massively high priority".

Earlier this year, Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe announced plans for a large scale increase in the numbers of armed police in London because of the increasing concerns about the possibility of a Paris-style marauding gun and bomb attack.

Authorities are also now launching a push to alert the public to official "Run, Hide, Tell" advice in the event of such an attack.

Scotland Yard is urging members of the public to sign up to the force's Twitter Alerts service.

Mark Rowley said the alerts would be activated in the event of a marauding attack and give members of the public vital, quick information on where an incident is unfolding and the best options to try to remain safe.

Over the last three years the number of terror-related arrests has risen by 57% compared to the previous three years.

Around half lead to a charge. Last year just over three-quarters (77%) of those arrested were British nationals, 14% were female and 13% were aged 20 and under.

Scotland Yard has seen more than 20 families and around 50 young people go through family court proceedings over concerns about radicalisation in the past year.

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