Leicestershire Police will be ensuring Christmas spirit is protected in busy areas around the county this holiday season – with the use of firearms.
The ramp up in armed patrols comes in the wake of the attacks that have taken place “Berlin and Turkey” in recent days, as highlighted by the force in their press release earlier today. Despite the attack in Ankara, Turkey being aimed at Russian politics in Aleppo.
Despite the increase in the number of guns on the streets, a spokesperson for Leicestershire Police has assured that this scheme is to “provide greater reassurance” to the public, not to alarm.
Firearms officers will patrol busy areas across the county when not on an active call out. The scheme began today at 7am and will run through until lunchtime on 3 January 2017. The operation will be run by EMOpSS, the East Midlands Operational Support Service.
So who else is taking part in this increase on armed patrols and what is the need for them?
Well, the country’s threat level has been rated as “severe”, since August 2014. This means an attack is highly likely, however the step up in patrols is actually related to an announcement made by the Home Office, last year. Stating that there will be an increased number of firearms officers across the country.
Leicester wasn’t the only county to announce this step up in armed officers. An announcement on the Leicestershire police website this morning confirmed that Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire are also joining the increase in armed patrols.
How should we respond to armed officers in the street?
Leicestershire aren’t the only police force to be reassuring the public that these officers are here for your protection.
Recently Northumbria Police tweeted that firearms officers would be in Newcastle City Centre and at the Newcastle Christmas Market; they also encouraged anyone who had concerns to go and talk to them, perhaps even take selfies.
So is this akin to an Americanisation of the police or are we being as reserved as one might expect in Britain?
Let us know what you think about this increase and how safe you feel in the comments below.
Chief Superintendent, Ian Howick, who is in charge of EMOpSS, said: “Far from alarming the public, the purpose of this change in approach is to achieve precisely the opposite – to provide greater reassurance.
“There is no specific threat to the East Midlands, but recent events elsewhere in the world have led to a change in what the public in Britain expect and want from their local police.”
Don’t be alarmed at the sight though, Greater Manchester Police are also stepping up police patrols across the city centre of armed and uniformed officers. Birmingham have also stepped up patrols as well as adding road barriers in city centre areas, and the Metropolitan Police force are reviewing their security for Christmas and New Years events.
People are asked to remain vigilant during the holiday period and to report anything they believe to be suspicious to Leicestershire Police if necessary and in an emergency by calling 999.