Police urge public to be vigilant in crowded spaces as festive season begins
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Christmas shoppers and those attending festive events across Bedfordshire are being urged to remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism.
Following the increase in the UK’s terrorism threat level recently, police are calling on the public to report anything suspicious to them as the festive season begins.
Our Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra said: “This is our first ‘proper’ Christmas since the start of the pandemic, with busy towns and city centres – and it is essential that the public play their part in helping us to protect the UK. We need you to be vigilant, and we need you to be alert.
“The public have a very real impact on the way our police, security and intelligence services fight terrorism.
“In the last year Counter Terrorism Policing received around 10,000 reports from the public about suspected terrorist activity – of those, a fifth provided useful intelligence which helps officers stop terrorists.
“It is very likely that before any terror incident or attack, someone, somewhere has thought ‘that’s a bit strange’, or been concerned by something they’ve seen or heard. If you think something isn’t right, trust your instincts, and report it.
“Attacks can take many forms, as can suspicious behaviour. Ask yourself – does someone’s behaviour seem out of place? Are they making strange purchases? Are they taking an unusual amount of interest in security arrangements?
“Don’t worry about wasting police time. Any piece of information could be important and it is better to be safe and report. No call or click will be ignored. What you tell the police is treated in the strictest confidence and is thoroughly researched by experienced officers before, and if, any police action is taken.”
“Remember, trust your instincts and ACT. Action Counters Terrorism.”
Detective Superintendent Andy Waldie, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing for the eastern region, said: “We know that after last Christmas, everyone is excited to be able to celebrate properly this year and join in with the festivities.
“However, as recent events in Liverpool and Essex have shown us, the terrorist threat has not gone away. That’s why we are asking you to stay alert this winter, whether attending a Christmas market or shopping in our town centres, and help us by being our eyes and ears.
“If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and act. You will not be wasting our time – any piece of information could be important.”