ESSEX Police has announced that armed officers will be working alongside their neighbourhood and specialist colleagues on high visibility patrols at intu Lakeside and London Southend airport.
The patrols, which will begin on Monday 19 September and which will not have regular scheduled times, are designed to reassure the public and deter or disrupt crime and terrorism and are not in a response to any specific intelligence or information about incidents in the county.
Assistant Chief Constable Carl O’Malley said: "Police officers are working around the clock across the county to protect people from harm. That work includes countering the threat posed by terrorism.
"There is no specific intelligence about a direct threat in Essex and no cause for alarm, but the current UK terrorist threat level is ‘severe’, meaning that an attack in this country is ‘highly likely’.
"As part of Essex Police’s response to that to that threat, I need people in the county to know that they can expect to see an increased police presence, including armed firearms officers, at intu Lakeside, London Southend airport and potentially other locations in the future.
"These patrols are to reassure people that we’re out there keeping them safe. They are also aimed at disrupting or deterring crime. There is no cause for anyone to change their plans or how they go about their lawful business and if you see the patrols it does not mean there is a cause to worry or panic.”
Essex Police has appealed for people in the county to be alert but not alarmed, to raise issues with staff or security in public places or call 999 in an emergency. Any suspicious activity can be reported to the police by calling the confidential anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789321
The patrols are in addition to the force’s Project Servator, which aims to deter and detect crime through operational policing. This means the locations, type of tactics and times of patrols will continually change to maximise effectiveness and avoid predictability for those intending to committing crime.
In support of the initiative, the force have deployed a wide range of tactics and specially trained officers skilled at spotting suspicious behaviour; this includes officers with sniffer dogs. Officers will also be working closely with the security staff and CCTV operators of both venues who can spot and track offenders.
This initiative is in line with the work of the Metropolitan Police Service and Kent Police.