Here's why there are more police officers in Commercial Road in Portsmouth

A SENIOR police chief says members of the public are the force’s ‘eyes and ears’ when it comes to battling potential terrorism threats in Portsmouth.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 1:47 pm

Counter Terrorism Policing’s south east unit says shoppers in Portsmouth may see an increase in police presence during the festive period, as it launches a new campaign called Action Counters Terrorism.

The campaign not only encourages members of the public to stay vigilant for potential terror threats while shopping, but for retailers and other businesses in crowded places to draw up fast security plans to improve their reaction to emergencies.

Police say there is no known increased threat level in Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham or Havant, but the public must remain alert and vigilant.

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Police visibility in the city centre has increased

The police presence will be mostly felt in Commercial Road, Gunwharf Quays and Southsea.

Assistant Chief Constable Pete O'Doherty said: ‘The premise of the campaign is encouraging members of the public to keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour and to report it, either to police officers or on-site security.

‘Because cities like Portsmouth tend to have more concert venues and shopping centres, it’s always going to be a bigger focus for us – but these incidents can happen just about anywhere.

‘There’s always a more visible police presence over the festive season but this campaign is about strengthening out relationship with the public.’

In the outbreak of terror attacks elsewhere in the country, there have often been scenes of panic as people scramble for safety.

But Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth says a calm – yet fast – approach will yield the greatest chance of survival.

‘I want staff working in crowded places to know who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, how to enter and exit a building in an emergency, how to lock down or where to hide if needs be,’ he said.

‘Last year on Oxford Street we saw a fight at a tube station cause panic when people believed that a terrorist attack had occurred. In the rush to keep themselves safe, some people suffered serious injuries and businesses were severely disrupted.’

Public counter terrorism training is available by going to gov.uk/government/news/act-awareness-elearning.