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.
:: Watch a special programme, The Battle For Mosul, at 7pm on Monday on Sky News.
Jeremy Corbyn has told ITV’s Peston on Sunday1 security at Parliament “needs to be looked at” in the wake of the Westminster attack and called on the government to overhaul its counter-terror approach to stop Muslims feeling singled out. In a wide-ranging interview with Robert Peston, the Labour leader said:
Addressing matters away from the attack, Mr Corbyn also said:
“I think what Prevent has often done is seen to target the Muslim community, not anybody else, looks to say there is a kind of suspicion over the whole community and it’s actually often counter-productive.”
When pushed on exactly what he believed needed to change, he said: “I’m saying broaden it into an agenda of inclusion. .. . Focus it on all communities.”
Wednesday’s attack saw lone-wolf extremist Khalid Masood, who converted to Islam in adulthood, shot dead to end his car and knife attack in central London on Wednesday. Mr Corbyn clarified that he supported the policy of shoot-to-kill “in a wholly defensive situation” but cautioned: “You’ve got to be careful you don’t end up with what we had in Ireland in the 1980s.”
Mr Corbyn backed the police response, saying: “The police did their best to protect Parliament and Keith Palmer lost his life trying to protect Parliament.
“But there is a question of .. . access to the building and that needs to be looked at.”
On the possibility of an early general election being called by the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn said: “We are developing our policies but clearly if an election is called we can bring all that forward and we are ready, yes.”
He added: “It wouldn’t be just us actually because it (repealing the Fixed-term Parliament Act) requires two thirds of all MPs to vote for it.
“We would not block it, of course not, because if that’s what is on offer, I don’t know if that’s in her mind or not .
She certainly hasn’t discussed it with me.”