ARMED police became an unexpected attraction in their own right at Warwick Castle today.
They were of course there for a serious reason following the heightened terror alert across the country in the wake of the attack in Manchester earlier in the week.
Their presence was clearly reassuring for the thousands who visited the castle which unveiled its latest attraction in the shape of War of the Roses Live – an all-new horseback jousting spectacle in front of 2,000-strong cheering crowds in the jousting arena.
Warwickshire Police is increasing the visibility of policing around the county over the weekend – including armed officers at tourist hotspots such as the castle and neighbouring Shakespeare’s Stratford.
The officers at the castle were happy to pose for photos with visitors while remaining alert to any possible threat.
Jane Davies, who was visiting with her family from Wales, was happy to see them.
“What happened in Manchester was terrible. It is vital everything possible is done to avoid such a thing happening again – which of course is easier said than done – and seeing armed police officers is reassuring.
“On our way here we realised Warwick Castle, being such a big tourist attraction, could be target, but we never thought not to come. We cannot give in to the terrorists.”
Prime Minister Theresa May today announced the UK threat level had been reduced from the highest level of critical to severe – meaning an attack was highly likely rather than imminently expected.
Commenting on the change, Warwickshire Police Asst Ch Con Martin Evans said: “”We put additional local policing resources in place across the county for reassurance and we have taken the decision that this will continue throughout the bank holiday weekend. It has been heart warming to see how our officers, staff and the community have continued to work together so positively following the tragic events at the beginning of the week.
“Equally, the additional armed officers you may have seen at iconic locations, transport hubs and events, following the national activation of Operation Temperer, will remain in place throughout the bank holiday weekend providing additional reassurance.
“The UK Threat Level had been at severe since August 2014 until this week when it was increased following the horrific attack at the Manchester arena. This means that an attack is highly likely. Therefore we continue to urge our communities to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour or activity on 0800 789 321. In an emergency you should always call 999.”