British police are carrying out security investigations at an “exceptionally high” pace not seen in years to disrupt potentially deadly plots directed from abroad, notably Syria, the country’s top counter-terrorism officer said on Friday.

Mark Rowley, Britain’s national policing spokesman for counter-terrorism, said the police had made 218 arrests so far this year while dozens of vulnerable people were also being referred to de-radicalisation programs.

“The volume, range and pace of counter-terrorism activity has undergone a step-change,” Rowley said in a statement, in the latest indication of serious concern among British authorities about the threat of an attack.

Britain has been considered a target for Islamist militants ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States, and 52 people were killed when four young Britons carried out suicide bombings in London in 2005.

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