South Yorkshire Police has issued a bizarre appeal for shoppers visiting Meadowhall to pose for a picture - with armed police officers.
The force posted a tweet yesterday of three armed cops smiling while holding their guns at the shopping centre with the message: "Seen our officers in Meadowhall? Say hello and ask for a photo if you like! We've got extra patrols on over Christmas."
The tweet prompted Geoff Heyes to ask: "Is it really a good idea to ask for a photo? This will lead to the officer being distracted from the reason he or she is there."
Police said more armed officers will take to the streets of South Yorkshire over the Christmas period to provide visible reassurance to the public.
Officers explained the threat level across the UK remains at ‘severe’, and has been at this level since August 2014.
Tim Forber, assistant chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, said: "The country remains on severe threat level, and there’s no intelligence to suggest a change to this is on the horizon; however, we recognise that the public would like reassurance as they enjoy the festive period.
"Putting these officers out onto the streets now should encourage people to go about their business as usual, supported by their local police, both armed and unarmed. I think it’s a good opportunity for people to get to know more about our firearms officers.
"Whilst their weapons may seem intimidating the officers are friendly and approachable so if you do see them around please say hello and they’d be happy to answer any questions you may have."