No panic – but public urged to be vigilant

PEOPLE across the North-East are urged to be more vigilant and report anything suspicious to police as emergency services remain on high alert nationwide following the terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.

PEOPLE across the North-East are urged to be more vigilant and report anything suspicious to police as emergency services remain on high alert nationwide following the terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.

Yesterday Northumbria Police Chief Constable Mike Craik said people would notice a heightened police presence at Newcastle Airport, Central Station and city centre – but stressed there is no intelligence suggesting that the region is at risk of being targeted.

He said residents needed to be alert and vigilant but there was no need to panic or over-react following the incidents in London and Glasgow Airport.

Mr Craik also appealed to motorists not to park on the perimeter of Newcastle Airport to avoid parking fees – saying this only added to security problems.

He said: “People will see a reassuring police presence at the airport, station and city centre. There will be inconvenience at the airport but it is for people's safety.

“There is no intelligence to suggest we are at any more risk than anywhere else in the UK but we have seen what happened at Glasgow so we know that the risk is present and it is certainly out there.

“People need to be vigilant and call the police if they see anything suspicious at all, but we have not seen any increase in those sorts of calls since the London bombing attempts last week.

“We would ask people not to park indiscriminately outside the airport to avoid parking fees, because that is not helpful.”

Mr Craik said he stuck by his comments of a year ago that the region had been left more vulnerable to terrorist attacks following the dropping of plans for a unified North-East police force across Northumbria, County Durham and Cleveland.

He added: “I still believe we would be in a stronger position if we had merged the three forces, but that is not going to happen now.

“What we are doing is talking to police colleagues about alternative plans and how we can help each other on the threat of terrorism.”

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Burning cars warning for North firefighters

FIREFIGHTERS have been warned to be on alert if they are called to deal with burning cars.

The emergency services are preparing for any future attacks following the weekend’s car bomb incidents.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Iain Bathgate said the fire service had met with Northumberland Police to decide what to do in light of recent events. He said: “We discussed what the threat level is in the North-East. While there is no specific intelligence we want to ensure everyone is aware of the threat and we need enhanced vigilance.

“We have asked fire crews when they are handling car fires to be aware of what is happening and to report anything sus- picious.”

Chief Fire Officer Richard Bull told his staff on Monday morning to be on their guard when responding to 999 calls.

He said: “Over the weekend there have been a number of potential car bomb incidents in London and Strathclyde.

“Thankfully these have not resulted in loss of life or injuries.

“As Government, police and security services have said many times, we are currently facing the most severe and sustained threat to our security from international terrorism.

“Everyone must remain vigilant at all times particularly in terms of the incidents we attend. To treat every situation with caution is important and to report any unusual events is essential.”

Page 2: Looking for site to store bodies

Looking for site to store bodies

FIRE chiefs on Tyneside are searching for a site to locate an emergency mortuary capable of storing up to 600 bodies in the event of a mass-fatality disaster.

The Tyne and Wear Fire Authority are planning to bring in the same company who dealt with the aftermath of the September 11 attacks as they prepare their civil contingency response.

Previous plans for mass fatalities in an air or traffic disaster involved bodies being stored at TA branches.

The Ministry of Defence withdrew this facility when it became apparent that incidents such as a flu pandemic or a large-scale terrorist attack could mean councils have to store hundreds of bodies for several months.

The Fire Authority is now looking at seven different sites – mainly council owned vacant land or hard standing car parks – to place the tents and huts that form an emergency mortuary.

The Civil Contingencies Committee met to discuss the results of disaster exercises. The weekend’s terror attacks, which have seen firefighters placed on heightened alert, were described as an “unfortunate reminder of why we need these events.”

Coun Peter Gibson said: “The events of the weekend and the exercises we have gone through prove that we need to be in a state of readiness for any event. And of course, vigilance is most important, from everyone’s point of view.”

The new site will have to be capable of housing the National Emergency Mortuary Arrangements which were in place after the July 7 London bombings.

Kenyon International is expected to be chosen as the company who will provide specialist equipment if a morgue has to be set up at short notice.

Described as the world’s most experienced disaster management, the company were used in response to Hurricane Katrina and the Asian Tsunami. They will form the backbone of the emergency response in the North.

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