A Birmingham police officer has been arrested over hoax claim. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
A police officer has been arrested in connection with a hoax claim that another officer was to be kidnapped as part of a terror plot.
The 28-year-old, who serves with Birmingham’s west and central local policing unit, is one of three men held on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, West Midlands police said. The other men are 25 and 31.
The arrests come after an investigation revealed a tipoff given to the force on 8 December last year, which concerned a threat to abduct and kill a Muslim police officer, was false and malicious.
The information was considered credible when it was received, prompting the force to issue a warning to 10,000 officers and staff – which included advice to take extra precautions such as not wearing uniform during journeys to and from work.
West Midlands police revealed the threat was neither credible or related to terrorism shortly after. A 31-year-old man arrested on 9 December was eliminated from enquiries and it has emerged he was subsequently deported by border officials.
The threat was made at a time of heightened fear among police officers of a terrorist attack. The internal threat level for police was raised from moderate to substantial in October 2014, meaning intelligence analysts believed there was a strong possibility that terrorists would target an officer. It also came about four months after the home secretary announced the UK terror threat level had been raised to severe.
The police officer is also suspected of misconduct in a public office and misuse of police systems, while the other two people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.
All three men are being questioned by detectives from West Midland police’s anti-corruption unit with support from the counter-terrorism unit.
Concern for the welfare of police officers followed the arrest in October last year of a group of alleged Islamist plotters. Five men were charged with plotting to kill police officers or soldiers on the streets of London. Some of the group allegedly swore allegiance to Islamic State and scouted out Shepherd’s Bush police station and White City territorial army barracks on a “hostile reconnaissance” mission on Google Street View.
They allegedly kept Instagram images of two Scotland Yard officers and two Metropolitan police community support officers, as well as a trove of jihadi material including videos of beheadings.