Police are calling on Christmas shoppers to remain vigilant as armed patrols are stepped up in London following two terror attacks in the space of a month.
The Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and British Transport Police are increasing the number of officers – both armed and unarmed – across the capital over the festive period after the UK’s terrorism threat level was raised to severe last week.
These patrols are set to continue over the coming weeks, with many taking place in or around Christmas events, busy shopping areas and transport hubs.
As part of this, Londoners can also expect to see Project Servator deployments across London, which happen throughout the year but are being stepped up in the run up to and over the Christmas and New Year period.
These dedicated counter terrorism patrols involve specially trained officers who are able to spot tell-tale signs of people who may be involved in criminality, and also detect and disrupt those who might be planning or preparing an act of terrorism.
Specialist counter terrorism security advisors have been working closely with event organisers and venue owners, advising them on what security measures can be put in place to keep visitors and customers safe.
The Metropolitan Police said plainclothes officers will be working alongside uniformed officers in London and other units such as dogs and horses may be involved.
As part of their work, police will speak to the public and businesses to let them know what they are doing.
Matt Twist, deputy assistant commissioner of specialist operations at the Metropolitan Police, said: “It has been two years since we’ve been able to get together and enjoy London in all its festive glory with some degree of ‘normality’.
“But, tragically, we’ve seen two terrorist attacks in Essex and Merseyside over the past few weeks, and as a result, the terrorism threat level has been raised from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’.
“Therefore it is important people stay vigilant, and report anything that might look out of place or suspicious.
“I want to stress that the increased threat level is not specific to the capital, so people should still go out and enjoy everything London has to offer at this time of year.
“But I would ask that you stay alert, and help us to keep you safe by being our extra eyes and ears. If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right, then trust your instincts and report it.”
The senior officer said forward planning was key to avoiding terror attacks at Christmas time.
Commenting on a fatal car crash at a Christmas parade in Wisconsin in the US on Sunday, he told LBC: “This is about vigilance. There’s a lot of work that’s done in advance of gatherings and in advance of events in the UK.”
The incident in Wisconsin, which saw five people die after a car ploughed into a crowd, has not been declared as terror-related.
The UK’s terrorism threat level was raised to “severe” last week meaning an attack is “highly likely” after two terror attacks took place in the space of a month.
Tory MP Sir David Amess died after being stabbed while holding a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on 15 October.
A homemade bomb was then detonated inside a taxi as it pulled up at Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday. The taxi driver managed to escape but the suspected bomber was killed in the blast.
If you see something suspicious, either tell a police officer, report it online via www.gov.uk/ACT or call the confidential Anti Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. In an emergency, call 999.
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