Outlet among sites to get routine armed patrols
Police tell people not to panic as they introduce firearms
Armed police are set to routinely patrol the Ashford Designer Outlet and other key locations around the county in the wake of the Westminster terror attack a fortnight ago.
The shopping centre has now been included in the list of sites regularly guarded by armed officers from Kent Police.
The move was announced just over a week after Khalid Masood, who was born in Dartford and lived in various locations across Kent, carried out the terrorist attack on the Houses of Parliament and Westminster that left four people dead including PC Keith Palmer, who Masood stabbed to death at the entrance to Parliament.
Work is continuing to increase the number of armed officers in Kent, in line with the Home Office’s national request to all forces last year.
While there is no specific information to suggest a direct threat to Kent, patrols by armed units and officers with tasers will continue.
Key locations include Canterbury Cathedral, the Port of Dover and Bluewater as well as the Ashford Designer Outlet. Armed officers were seen at the outlet on Tuesday morning
Assistant Chief Constable Tony Blaker said: “It has been just over six months since we introduced overt firearms patrols to our existing patrol strategy and we have received positive feedback from the people and businesses of Kent.
“We regularly review the threat levels in the county in consultation with the Home Office to ensure we provide the most appropriate protection to the people of Kent.
“There is nothing to suggest a direct threat to our county, but we have a duty to protect the communities in it and that is why we feel it is important to continue these patrols in key locations.
“We want the public to know what we’re doing to protect them and not to panic if they see officers with firearms or tasers on patrol.”
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Armed police patrols are coming to Ashford Designer Outlet