Armed police at public events to remain a familiar sight
THE presence of armed police on Cumbria’s streets is being reviewed weekly, according to the constabulary’s temporary chief superintendent, Mark Pannone.
Chief Supt. Pannone, who took the decision to keep armed police on the streets after the country’s terror alert was reduced from critical to severe at the end of May, said the officers were still providing reassurance to members of the public.
He added that the decision was taken after taking into account national guidance.
“The threat level at the moment is at severe and that is a national level that is set by government. Severe means an attack is highly likely. The level did go to critical for a few days, after the terrorist attack in Manchester, and there is a nervousness over the country and a concern over the incidents that have happened over the past few months,” said Chief Supt. Pannone.
“For that reason, policing has changed across the country. There are more armed police. There are more police at public events and more public events are being policed, which we could not ordinarily police, and more high visibility policing, particularly for reassurance and taking account of some of the comments we have received about what response people want to see.
“There is no intelligence at this time that there will be a terrorist attack somewhere in Cumbria, but we are not living in typical times, so armed officers are necessary.”
Chief Supt. Pannone added that an armed police presence would still remain in areas where lots of people were congregating, which could mean anything from a public event to one with high numbers of visitors.
He said: “This year, we had armed officers at Appleby fair, which is not normal, and at recent music events in Carlisle. You will also see armed officers in places like Bowness, mainly because there are a lot of people there, and high volumes of people are where there is the greatest risk.”
However, he stressed that armed officers were happy to engage with members of the public and talk about their presence and what they are doing.
“We would encourage people to go and speak to them,” he said, adding that it was unclear how long an armed police presence would remain.
“I review it weekly, and obviously if there was a change to the terror threat level, I would review it that day. Obviously there is a cost to this level of policing, as officers are redeployed from other things, but at the moment, I see it as a proportionate level of response.
“As well as more armed officers, you will also see an increase in dog patrols and general officers at events we would not normally police.”