Police Scotland urge public to be alert following Manchester attack

A family arrives at the support centre set up at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
A family arrives at the support centre set up at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester

The horrific bombing in Manchester this week has led Police Scotland to call for the public to be on the alert for attacks north of the border.

It was stated armed police have been deployed at transport hubs and crowded places throughout Scotland following the incident at the Manchester Arena during a concert by singer Ariana Grande which saw 22 people, including children, killed and over 50 others injured by a lone suicide bomber.

A help centre has been established at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium for anyone who needs assistance in tracing loved ones or other support.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: “My thoughts and those of everyone at Police Scotland are with those who have lost loved ones or who were injured in the attack in Manchester.

“As part of the UK-wide response to these events, Police Scotland continues to review all safety and security plans and operations. This includes ensuring our armed policing and specialist resources are appropriately deployed.

“People will therefore see armed police on patrol at transport hubs and crowded places. There is no intelligence to suggest there is any threat to Scotland but I would ask the public to remain alert and report anything suspicious.

“We continue to liaise with the UK authorities in response to this incident.”

Just two months ago Police Scotland carried out an exercise in the Forth Valley area designed to raise awareness among communities of ways in which they can help the authorities counter threats from terrorism.

The drive, part of an ongoing public consultation Your View Counts, urged the public to report suspicious activity.

At the time officer Bryan McKie said: “In the past, lives have been saved and terrorists have been disrupted thanks to the public coming forward with information.

“This campaign urges the public to contact the police about suspicious activity by calling the Anti-Terrorist Hotline or utilising the online reporting form.”

The theme of the campaign was ‘ACT – Action Counters Terrorism – Make Nothing Happen’ which police hoped would “generate a step-change in equipping communities with the information they need to defeat terrorism”.

Last year Police Scotland announced it was increasing its number of armed officers and put plans in place for another 124 officers from existing staff to train in firearms to enhance the force’s capacity and capability to counter terrorism incidents.

In December last year Police Scotland responded to public fears over terrorism and stepped up patrols during Black Friday.

“Be alert, not alarmed” was the key message from the force as they carried out a range of activities designed to raise awareness on countering the threat of terrorism and offer reassurance to the public.

However, the initiative – part of Counter Terrorism Awareness Week – came in for criticism from people logging onto The Falkirk Herald Facebook site, who called it a “waste of time and resources” and said officers would be better off concentrating their efforts on catching motorists who drive illegally.

The operation saw hundreds of Police Scotland officers from across the country conducting a number of high profile engagements and high-visibility patrols – however, that did not lead to squads of armed police officers marching through Falkirk town centre.

Chief superintendent Stephen McAllister, Forth Valley divisional commander, said: “We should point out that, although the threat of terrorist attacks across the UK is severe, there has been no specific intelligence to suggest this area will be attacked.”