Armed police deployed in counterterror operation to protect synagogues during Jewish holidays

Police brace for potential increase in hate crimes during religious holidays

Police said they were taking precautions to protect communities that may be more visible during religious holidays
Police said they were taking precautions to protect communities that may be more visible during religious holidays

Armed officers are being deployed to protect Jewish people during religious holidays, as part of an operation led by counterterror police.

Scotland Yard said it had no “intelligence about a specific threat” but was taking precautions as worshippers marked the Jewish new year, Yom Kippur and other festivals over coming weeks.

Security is being heightened around synagogues and other key sites amid “reassurance” patrols that will run up until 2 October.

Chief Inspector Ronnie Morrell said London’s communities should feel safe to continue their daily lives, despite the four terror attacks that struck the capital last year.

“For the Jewish community, this means marking the high holidays as normal, so officers across London are working with partners and the Jewish community to ensure events are secure,” he added.

“As a result, communities in some areas may see a greater level of police officers – both armed and unarmed, uniformed and in plain clothes – than normal.

“Their presence is not based on intelligence about a specific threat but is a precautionary measure at a time when communities may be more visible, as larger numbers go to worship during this time.

“I urge the public to remain vigilant and contact the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline if they notice any suspicious or unusual activity.”

The operation, coordinated by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Protective Security Operations team, is being conducted with partners including the Community Security Trust (CST), Shomrin and Kehilah Security and Protection Association.

Neighbourhood police across London have also been briefed on the potential for an increase in hate crime incidents during the period, and antisemitic social media activity is being monitored.

“This is a time for people to come together with family and friends and we want to them do so safely and securely,” said Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, the lead for community engagement.

“Sadly, we are also aware that some people may use this occasion to display offensive or hateful views. Therefore we also want to make sure the community know we are here to support them if they are a victim of hate crime and we will deal with any hate incidents speedily and robustly.”

Police recorded spikes in hate crime following last year’s terror attacks and the EU referendum, while monitors have warned that antisemites are “becoming more confident to express their views”.

Children as young as 11 have been physically attacked, while graffiti has been daubed on homes and synagogues and MPs have been targeted with antisemitic abuse after speaking out on the issue.

CST counted the second highest number of incidents on record between January and June this year, averaging at more than 100 a month.

The most common target was “visibly Jewish” people in public spaces, followed by Jewish organisations, events and commercial premises, homes and synagogues.

Researchers have cited issues including violence on the Gaza border and debate around the Labour Party as drivers.

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