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Election candidates warned of security risks

Most candidates running in the General Election will have little in the way of enhanced protection during the campaign unless they raise specific concerns with the police, security sources have told Sky News. The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) says it is writing to all of the country’s MPs and setting out crucial security advice and guidance in the run-up to 8 June. Although there is no direct intelligence of election-related threats, there is an increasing sense of nervousness among authorities in the wake of the terror attack in Westminster and last week’s shooting of police officers in Paris ahead of the French presidential elections. The NPCC, which represents all 43 police forces in England and Wales, said: “Where particular concerns are raised local police will work with constituency offices to review security and put in place appropriate measures.

“This vigilance message applies to all of the candidates and their team members who will be out campaigning over the coming weeks.”

Image: Dr Lisa Cameron MP says she is taking ‘sensible precautions’ after receiving death threats

Security surrounding the Prime Minister and other senior political figures has been visibly enhanced since the Westminster attack. Theresa May has signalled her determination to join the campaign trail and canvass in local communities. Although this brings extra risks, the Prime Minister will at least have added protection . Most other candidates will not. The MP for East Kilbride, Lisa Cameron, was subjected to death threats last year . She said they had spurred her into making sure she and her colleagues take “sensible precautions” as they begin their campaigns.

“There are vulnerabilities and you have to be able to be aware and acknowledge that, once you’ve got that insight you can be aware of risk management,” she said. “Given the incidents that have occurred, those types of interactions are going to have to be done in a way to minimise risk . You can’t totally eradicate risk but it should never stop MPs or candidates engaging with constituents.”

The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in her West Yorkshire constituency last year led to a reappraisal of security. Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford West, has also suffered death threats in the past year – and said there was always an element of risk in an open democracy but that extremists should not be allowed to win. She said: “We have been given extra advice on carrying lone worker devices when we are out and about, and yes, that risk increases when we are out in the constituency. “One of the things about democracy is about being in touch directly with people.”

Former Scotland Yard firearms officer Roger Gray said the recent events in Westminster and Paris will certainly have focused the minds of the police and security officials as the UK’s election gets under way. He added: “What we saw just a few weeks ago was dreadful but it’s very difficult to calculate for . One thing we do have in the run-up to the election is heightened awareness, so if something happens it won’t be a complete bolt from the blue as that was . And the public will be vital in helping the authorities track any potential risk.”

Chief constables are currently liaising with politicians who have had threats in the past, and all candidates are being urged to ensure police know about their planned events.

Paris attack: 50000 troops and police mobilised

More than 50,000 police and soldiers have been “fully mobilised” after the killing of a police officer in Paris – and days before the country’s presidential election. The attacker shot dead by police on the Champs-Elysees on Thursday evening is believed to be Karim Cheurfi, 39. 1 A property being searched in the eastern Paris suburb of Chelles is understood to be his home and three members of his family have been taken into custody. A note praising the Islamic State (IS) group was found near the attacker, a source close to the investigation told the AFP news agency. French officials, speaking anonymously, said the suspect had been convicted of attempted murder in 2003 after a shooting incident against police.

Image: A picture of shooting suspect Karim Cheurfi from social media Image: Police have been searching a house where the attacker is believed to have lived

He was also detained in February for making threats against officers, but released because of lack of evidence. However, authorities are still to officially confirm the attacker’s identity. As the country prepares to vote, France’s prime minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said more than 50,000 police and gendarmes, as well as 7,000 soldiers, had been mobilised to safeguard the election2 and protect polling stations.

“Nothing must hamper this democratic moment, essential for our country,” said Mr Cazeneuve. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen used the aftermath of the attack to call for the government to immediately expel foreigners being monitored by intelligence services and reinstate France’s borders. Conservative candidate Francois Fillon said the fight against “Islamist totalitarianism” should be the priority for France’s next president.

Image: Armed police were on patrol again on Friday on the Champs-Elysees

“We are at war, there is no alternative, it’s us or them,” said Mr Fillon. In a video posted online, frontrunner for the presidency Emmanuel Macron said “the terrorist’s will is to destabilize the country”.

“In such circumstances, the role of the president of the Republic as the army chief and guardian of our institutions is to protect the French . I am ready,” he said.

Image: The public were ushered away from the scene as police drew their weapons

The attack happened when a silver Audi pulled up next to a police van on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue – usually packed with tourists heading to the Arc de Triomphe. The gunman got out and immediately used an assault rifle to shoot officers guarding an area near the Franklin Roosevelt metro station. He tried to run along the pavement, aiming at other police and hitting two of them. Other officers opened fire, killing the assailant.

As well as the two officers – who doctors now say are out of danger – a female German tourist was also wounded. A pump-action shotgun and knives were found in the gunman’s car.

:: Charlie Hebdo to Champs-Elysees – timeline of France terror attacks3 IS claimed it was responsible for the attack and named Abu Yusuf al Beljiki as the attacker. The pseudonym indicates the attacker was Belgian – something the country’s interior minister, Jan Jambon, has denied, insisting the attacker was French.

  1. Masked police on top of their vehicle on the Champs-Elysees

  2. An armed soldier secures a side road near the Champs-Elysees

  3. Forensics officers search a car on the Champs-Elysees

  4. Police officers block the access to the Champs-Elysees

  5. Police vehicles seen on the Champs-Elysees, near the Arc de Triomphe

  6. People raising their arms as they walk towards police on a side road near the Champs-Elysees

  7. Armed police officers block the access of a street near the Champs-Elysees

  8. An armed police officer on the Champs-Elysees

  9. Police officers searched people in the area after the attack on the Champs-Elysees

  10. Firefighters and rescuers stand by the site of the shooting on the Champs-Elysees

  11. French police vehicles drive in convoy through Paris streets after the shootout

  12. Police vehicles seen near the Eiffel Tower

  13. Police at the scene

  14. Champs-Elysees is locked down in Paris after the attack on police officers

  15. Police secure a side street

  16. Emergency services respond to the shooting

/

A witness, who identified himself as Chelloug, described hearing six shots4 during the attack. He said: “I thought they were firecrackers . In fact, he (the gunman) was hidden behind the van and shooting at the police. “I think he hit a policeman . As soon as the policeman opened the door of the van, he fell.” He said he and tourists fled to a shop. “We saw the policeman shoot the gunman who could have killed more of us.”

Image: The car believed to have been used in the attack

Police were seen pointing their weapons at members of public as they evacuated the area. Matthias Fekl, the French interior minister, paid tribute to the dead policeman and praised his colleagues who he said had “prevented a bloodbath”.

US President Donald Trump also tweeted his response to the attack, posting: “Another terrorist attack in Paris .

The people of France will not take much more of this .

Will have a big effect on presidential election!”

References

  1. ^ believed to be Karim Cheurfi, 39. (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ the election (news.sky.com)
  3. ^ :: Charlie Hebdo to Champs-Elysees – timeline of France terror attacks (news.sky.com)
  4. ^ six shots (news.sky.com)