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Armed police pose for selfies with children as high visibility patrols continue across Norfolk - despite lowering of terror threat level

PUBLISHED: 00:15 28 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:58 28 May 2017

Armed police mingle with the public on Cromer Pier during the Bank Holiday weekend. One officer is pictured chatting to prom cleaner Peter Cheney. Picture: ALARM MEDIA

Armed police mingle with the public on Cromer Pier during the Bank Holiday weekend. One officer is pictured chatting to prom cleaner Peter Cheney. Picture: ALARM MEDIA

ALARM MEDIA

Armed police with sub-machine guns are continuing high visibility patrols across Norfolk over the Bank Holiday weekend - despite a lowering of the UK threat level.

Armed police mingle with the public on Cromer Pier during the Bank Holiday weekend. One officer is pictured chatting to prom cleaner Peter Cheney. Picture: ALARM MEDIAArmed police mingle with the public on Cromer Pier during the Bank Holiday weekend. One officer is pictured chatting to prom cleaner Peter Cheney. Picture: ALARM MEDIA

Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey revealed the specialist firearms officers, who were deployed in key locations around the county following the suicide bombing in Manchester, would remain on the ground to offer reassurance to residents over the holiday period.

It is expected that they will return to usual policing levels on Monday evening, however police are advising the public to remain vigilant.

The decision follows the announcement from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre to lower the threat level this morning (Saturday), meaning an attack is highly likely but not imminently expected.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “We have, as other police forces across the country have, taken the practical and precautionary decision to retain heightened patrols until the end of the Bank Holiday. We will continue to review this proposed reduction of a visible presence and even when it does happen, it does not mean a reduction in service. We are here to protect the public and will do everything in our power to do so.

Armed police on patrol, and mingling with the public, in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesArmed police on patrol, and mingling with the public, in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

“Rest assured, the threat level and our response are constantly under review. If we feel it necessary to deploy specially trained officers to areas of heightened risk again in the coming weeks we will.

“I would continue to ask the public to remain calm but alert – if you see anything which causes you concern, then call the police immediately. Look out for anything that seems out of place, we would rather investigate concerns which come to nothing, rather than hear an incident could have been prevented.”

Armed police were spotted mingling with the public on Cromer Pier on Saturday as visitors converged on the coast to soak up the sun. They were said to be in good spirits and posed for selfies with children.

Norfolk and Suffolk’s Police Dog Unit was also on patrol in Norwich.

Armed police on patrol, and mingling with the public, in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesArmed police on patrol, and mingling with the public, in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

Deb Lewis, box office, marketing and retail manager at Cromer Pier, said: “It was a reassuring sight; they said they were not targeting Cromer in particular but this stretch of the coast anywhere where crowds are likely to build. They had great spirits and chatted to the public, had selfies with children and were very relaxed.”

Community leaders also welcomed the increased police presence. And pointed out life must go on.

Deputy Mayor of Cromer Town Council, David Pritchard said: “I have no problem with the decision of the government to increase the numbers of armed police and the military onto our streets and I see no reason why Cromer should not be included now the holiday season has started.

“In town today, it was very busy and people who live here and people who visit here want to do so in the knowledge that they are safe. Although a temporary measure, the armed police are here to give the public confidence and to show that the on-going threat of a terrorist attack in any city, town or village remains serious and real.

“The public wherever we are, be it in Cromer, Norwich, or London must be vigilant but we must still continue with whatever we have to do in our daily living.

“Whilst what happened in Manchester and Westminster is terrible and I know that everyone is still horrified with the deaths of innocent children and adults, we must all have complete confidence in our police and Armed Forces to get on with what they are highly trained to do.”

Norfolk Constabulary is advising anyone who spots any suspicious activity or behaviour should report it by calling 0800 789 321 or, in an emergency, dial 999.

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