UK police increases security at Christmas markets in wake of Berlin attack

Manchester and Met Police say they are either upping or reviewing security in light of Russian ambassador’s assassination and Breitscheidplatz lorry crash

Peter Walker
Tuesday 20 December 2016 11:19 GMT
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Policemen investigate the scene where a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin
Policemen investigate the scene where a truck ploughed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin (REUTERS)

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Police in the UK are upping security at Christmas markets after the Berlin terrorist attack that killed at least 12 people and injured a further 48.

London’s Scotland Yard said it will review security arrangements for Christmas and New Year events in light of the Breitscheidplatz lorry crash and the Russian ambassador’s death in Ankara.

Greater Manchester Police, meanwhile, said it is increasing patrols at many of its popular Christmas markets and adding extra protection at 10 market sites during this festive season.

The force’s assistant chief constable Debbie Ford said the increase was in line with Britain’s “national response” and that there was no intelligence suggesting an imminent attack in Greater Manchester.

The country’s terror threat has long been judged to be “severe”, meaning an attack is highly likely.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said it has “detailed plans for protecting public events over the Christmas and New Year period”.

The Met said: “These already recognise that the threat level is at ‘severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely, and have considered a range of threats, including the use of large vehicles.

“As a matter of routine, as a precaution, we review our plans after attacks overseas, and we are doing so at present following the awful incidents in Berlin and Ankara last night.”

Huge numbers of people will be in London around the festive period as shoppers flock to the capital for the post-Christmas sales, while more than 100,000 revellers are expected to attend the New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

Police have stepped up patrols at Christmas markets in the wake of the events in Berlin.

Greater Manchester Police said they had strengthened their presence at the markets, which have almost 350 stalls spread across 10 sites in the city.

Ms Ford said: “Greater Manchester Police already has a visible policing operation in place around the Christmas markets, in the city centre, and in other key areas across Greater Manchester in the run-up to Christmas.

“We will be working in line with the national response and have strengthened our policing presence at the Manchester Christmas Markets and stepped up visible patrols, to ensure that people feel safe to go about their daily lives.

“I would like to stress at this point that there is absolutely no information or intelligence suggesting any attack is imminent in Greater Manchester.

“If you do have any concerns at all don’t hesitate to get in touch with police.”

In Birmingham earlier this month, new reinforced temporary road-block barriers were installed at both the main routes leading to the city’s popular Christmas market.

Last week, a senior UK terrorism official in the city said an attack in Europe around Christmas time had been expected, but there had been no specific intelligence of any plot.

The barriers were put up in Colmore Row and Bennetts Hill to beef up security for the busy city centre market, which draws thousands of seasonal shoppers.

It is estimated that about 5.5 million people will visit the market before it closes on 29 December.

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy said: “Birmingham is united with Berlin today and our thoughts and sympathies are with victims, their families and everyone affected by last night's attack.”

He added that the council had written to Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller to express sympathy and solidarity.

A book of condolence has been opened in the Library of Birmingham and the library is being lit up in the colours of the German flag on Tuesday evening.

Agencies contributed to this report

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