Thames Valley Police is increasing security measures in Windsor from this evening, following the recent terror attack in Westminster . Specialist barriers are being put in place around Windsor Castle ahead of the Guard Change which is set to take place on Wednesday . Security measures and activities, including those for pre-planned events in crowded places have been reviewed by the Force
Assistant Chief Constable Dave Hardcastle said: While there is no intelligence to indicate a specific threat to Windsor, recent events in Westminster clearly highlight the need for extra security measures to be introduced . The Force believes that it is proportionate and necessary to put in place extra security measures to further protect and support the public and the Guard Change . This is consistent with security deployments in London . Preventative measures such as these have been put in place across the UK over the past 10 years at various events . The national threat level remains severe, which it has been since 2014, and I would urge the public to be alert to the threat of terror attacks but not alarmed, and to remain vigilant.
The new barriers will support existing road closures and will be used to secure the Guard Change route during the operation . Ch Insp Sarah Grahame, deputy LPA commander for Windsor and Maidenhead, said: I hope that people in Windsor will understand the reasons that these barriers are being introduced, and will see why they are necessary . Windsor is a safe place to live, work and visit, and these extra security measures at the Guard Change will offer further protection for people in the town in light of recent events in Westminster . Acts of terrorism and hate crimes are committed by a small minority of people, but have a big impact on communities, and it is essential that we all continue to work together and share information in order to combat this threat. Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, says: We support the good work of Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police in their work to make Windsor a safer place for those who live, work and visit the town .
These measures will increase security at the changing of the guard ceremony and the council is offering its help where necessary to ensure that this valued and popular tradition can continue.
UK authorities are facing an increased terror threat from battle-hardened fighters returning from Mosul and other conflict zones in Iraq and Syria. Security sources have told Sky News more than 400 former fighters are now believed to be back in Britain. The authorities believe there is a growing risk the UK could suffer the kind of mass gun and bomb attacks seen in France and Belgium recently, as many returning fighters will have been trained in the use of weapons and the construction of improvised explosive devices. It is a serious, two-pronged challenge for the police and security services, who are already working flat-out to counter the threat from homegrown lone-wolf extremists, like Khalid Masood, who launched last week’s deadly attack on Westminster.
Former Scotland Yard Specialist Firearms Officer and author Tony Long said combating an attack launched by a well-trained returning jihadist could be a tough prospect. He said: “These are combat-hardened soldiers . They might not be trained in the way that NATO might train their soldiers but they’ve seen more close quarter conflict and more urban fighting than probably most members of the British Armed Forces and you have to respect that.
“Of course they’re bringing that knowledge back with them to the UK and it’s very very difficult because of the legal restrictions that are put on the security services and the police to actually monitor all of these people.”
To date, only a fraction of those returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq have been prosecuted, as authorities need enough evidence to put before the courts and often returning fighters go to great lengths to cover up their overseas activities. Imran Khawaja, 29, from west London, is currently serving 12 years in prison after he faked his own death in Syria in an attempt to sneak back into the UK undetected. Khawaja had joined a militant group with links to so-called Islamic State while overseas. He was pictured posing with the severed heads of Syrian soldiers during his six months in the country. He was arrested as he tried to re-enter the UK through the port of Dover and later admitted preparing for acts of terrorism, attending a camp, receiving training and possessing firearms.
Security sources said they could not be certain that Khawaja would have launched an attack back home, but the pattern of returning jihadists posing a major risk to national security is well established. More than a decade ago, groups of al Qaeda trained terrorists were responsible for mass carnage in Europe and the United States. Those who launched the devastating attack on the London transport system on 7 July 2005 had attended al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some of the terrorists who launched a similar failed attack on London on 21 July 2005 had received weapons and explosives training, as had some of the plotters who planned to blow up airliners with liquid bombs in 2006. :: Traumatised children of Mosul2
Security expert Professor Tahir Abbas from the Royal United Services Institute said: “The police and security services are certainly preparing for all eventualities, because in Britain, we’ve had our lessons from the past. “These returning fighters pose a number of threats in relation to security here. “They’ve been through a lot of very traumatic conflict and engagement, often involved in street-to-street fighting.
“Now, having made their way back to Britain, they pose a particular threat because of their capacity – and perhaps they’ve been instructed to return, hold fire and wait for the go ahead to launch attacks.
“They are likely to be traumatised, but also extremely experienced and well trained individuals who pose a serious risk.” With the growing threat from returning fighters, emergency services have been increasing their training to respond to gun and bomb attacks. On March 19, more than 200 police officers carried out a training exercise on the River Thames, where police firearms teams boarded a boat in a training scenario involving dozens of hostages. The UK government has provided millions of pounds in extra funding to help Chief Constables across country to increase their firearms capability to respond to a terrorist attack.
Security services should have the power to access everyone’s emails and messaging apps, according to a Devon MP. Plymouth Moor View MP Johnny Mercer was speaking after the Home Secretary called on companies such as WhatsApp to allow security services access to their encrypted messages. Mr Mercer told BBC Daily Politics: “We all understand the points around civil liberties and how important they are, but freedom isn’t free . We have to protect our way of life, and if those we are going to ask to do that require extra powers in a digital age which is becoming more complex, I think we should give them to them. “I know from intelligence and security services that I’ve worked with in the past, we need the tools at our disposal in order to be able to do the job . One of those is electronic surveillance of individuals to try to identify these attacks, which are really difficult to identify.”
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Lord Brian Paddick said “not every single innocent member of the public” should be subjected to increased surveillance. He also accused the Government of cutting police budgets, but Mr Mercer said spending on tackling “digital threats” is going up. “The spend around counter-terrorism, the visible part of policing that is so important in our communities, is as important as it has ever been,” he said. “But this digital threat, around technology and so on, that is exponentially growing all the time and that requires the resources . If you actually look at what this Government is doing from 2015 to 2020 increasing that by 30 per cent and protecting counter-terrorism budgets this is a team effort across Government to try to counter these threats.
“We defeat this as a team, as politicians, as police, as community providers . I don’t really think it’s the time for cheap political points above what is an existential threat that is really difficult to get a hold of . We have a very challenging set of threats which are getting greater all the time, I think the police are doing a good job and we should get behind them.”
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