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The Scotland Yard have launched a public drive against mass casualty weapons to counter terrorist threats in the UK and to stop both illegal and legal arms falling into the hands of terrorists, the Business Standard reports.

In a rare public statement, the U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) and Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command said that terrorists had tried to get their hands on a large quantity of weapons in order to launch wide-scale gun attacks in Britain.

The details have emerged as a result of investigations of five jihadist terror plots which have been foiled in the last two years. The investigation into the origins and background of the five foiled plots has also discovered that 800 legally owned guns had gone missing.

The Daily Mail reports that the National Crime Agency and Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command urged the public to report suspicions about ineffective gun security and gun handling by legal owners of guns, as well as criminals handling firearms.

The two security agencies say that the public appeal – and intensified activity by the two agencies’ agents – come against the backdrop of British law enforcement, security, and intelligence services trying to thwart terrorist attacks similar to those which ISIS carried out in Paris in November 2015.

According to homelandsecuritynewswire.com, Britain has much stricter gun safety laws than the United States, there would-be terrorists can buy guns at gun shows or simply off the shelf. So, in Britain, terrorists would more likely get firearms from criminals. The British police say they have noticed a harsh rise in guns on the streets in London and some other big urban areas.

Mark Rowley, in charge of counter-terrorism for the U.K. police, said: “Despite our good work we know that firearms can enter the criminal market through a variety of means, including thefts from legitimate holders or dealers. Law enforcement, together with security and intelligence services, are working tirelessly to locate these weapons, confront the terrorist threat and keep the public safe.”

Rowley said of ten plots disrupted in the last two years, half had involved jihadists wanting to get guns.

The NCA director general, Lynne Owens, said: “Suppressing the availability of illegal firearms in the U.K. has never been a more significant priority for the law enforcement community. Criminal networks, who think nothing about who they sell firearms to, present a significant route by which extremist groups will try to access the sort of weapons used in recent attacks in Europe.”