Extra armed police officers will be on the streets of Sheffield and South Yorkshire over Christmas ‘to provide reassurance to the public’.
South Yorkshire Police said the move is designed to ‘work as a deterrent’ with the UK threat level from terrorism remaining at ‘severe’, the same rating it has been since August 2014.
South Yorkshire Police’s firearms command lead Chief Superintendant David Hartley 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.
“We are planning to increase the visibility of both local officers and armed officers onto the streets and into crowded places to provide visible reassurance and work as a deterrent.
“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.”
The announcement comes after shoppers were evacuated from the Fishergate Shopping Centre in Preston today after a suspicious device was found in a bin.
Police said the device found in a toilet bin at around 9.10am today ‘could have caused damage or injury’ had it fone off.
Chief Superintendent James Lee, South Division Commander for Preston, said the device was being recovered by bomb disposal officers.
The shopping centre will then be searched for any other devices to ensure it is “safe and secure” before it is reopened.
Mr Lee, speaking from outside the centre, told BBC Radio Lancashire: “I would describe it as a small incendiary device which could have caused damage or injury to someone had it fully gone off.”
He said he “imagined” it had been put there deliberately.
“There’s no other issues or intelligence to suggest anything else will happen in Preston, it’s just purely Fishergate centre, and we need to make sure it is safe and secure for people to go back into.”