POLICE chiefs in Warwickshire are reassuring residents their safety is the force’s top priority in the wake of the Westminster terror attack.
It follows a noticeably increased police presence on the tourist-packed streets of Stratford immediately after Khalid Masood had ploughed a car into people walking along Westminster Bridge before stabbing police officer PC Keith Palmer to death outside Parliament. Three other people were killed in the rampage and over 50 injured before Masood was shot dead.
But while police say there has been no intelligence to suggest any specific terrorist threat to Warwickshire, and the force constantly review plans in place to both prevent and respond to any incident, they are calling on the public to be vigilant
Ch Con Martin Jelley said: “All police forces prepare for a variety of terrorist situations but all hope that it is something we never have to face.
“The role police officers take each and every day to protect our communities should never be underestimated and the tragic death of PC Keith Palmer sadly highlights the risks they take, without hesitation, to serve their communities.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe added it was important the police and the public worked together to combat terrorism.
He said: “The events in Westminster showed once again the dedication and professionalism of all of the emergency services and, above all, the commitment of police officers to protect the public, in the face of very obvious dangers to their own safety.
“That same level of dedication to duty applies just as strongly in Warwickshire and is something that I know it is very much appreciated by the public.
“Tragedies such as these serve only to reinforce that we must all remain vigilant and continue to work together to combat terrorism.”
There was a police presence inside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ahead of the evening performance of Antony and Cleopatra on Thursday – but this was related to a planned protest.
A police spokesman said: “We were aware of concerns that five people were planning a protest in the theatre during the performance. We worked with theatre staff to monitor the situation. The people concerned were refused entry and left peacefully. There were no offences committed and there was no risk to other theatre-goers.”
Bag searches were also carried out at the afternoon performance of Julius Caesar, but these were part of the RSC’s on-going review of security.
An RSC spokesman said: “We have begun bag checks from time to time at performances. We regularly conduct emergency planning exercises and do update our procedures frequently.
The spokesman added the focus of the protest was unknown but for safety reasons the police were called in.
He said: “We support people’s right to protest. We also have a responsibility to make sure our staff and audiences, including protesters themselves, are safe. In response to recent national security concerns, we discourage protests inside the auditorium, instead inviting people to express their views from RSC land outside our buildings.”
Police, alongside other emergency services, carried out a exercise at the RST in January to test how armed officers responded to a major incident involving the criminal use of firearms.
People are urged to report any suspicious activity or behaviour by calling the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or using the secure form at www.gov.uk/ACT