UK police step up patrols around mosques following New Zealand shootings

UK police are stepping up patrols around mosques following the attack in New Zealand.

Officers will be deployed to provide reassurance as Muslims attend Friday prayers around the country.

They will also liaise with places of worship about their protective security measures.

National policing lead for counter-terrorism Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: “Together with our intelligence partners we continually monitor the varied threats we face, including to and around places of worship and specific communities across the country, to ensure we have the most appropriate protective security measures in place to keep people safe.

“Today we will be stepping up reassurance patrols around mosques and increasing engagement with communities of all faith, giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves.”

West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Matt Ward said officers will be engaging with key religious buildings to reassure local people.

He added: “We will continue to work closely together and unite against those who seek, through violence and extremism, to intimidate or cause fear.

“For us the focus now is the protection of those we serve in the West Midlands. As we are all very aware we face a sustained and determined threat to our security.”

Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), called on the Government to redouble efforts to ensure mosques are protected.

He said: “As the rest of us prepare to undertake our own Friday prayers today, we do so with the anxiety as to whether our mosques and communities are safe in the face of unabated Islamophobia and hostility against Muslim.”

The MCB also urged the Home Office to keep open its places of worship security fund on an ongoing basis.

Launched in 2016, the scheme helps churches, mosques, temples and gurdwaras to install alarms, security lighting and CCTV cameras to deter attackers.

Bids for up to £56,000 per place of worship could be submitted between June and August last year.

The potential for mosques to be targeted was underlined in the Finsbury Park attack in 2017.

Experimental figures published by the Home Office last year indicated that in 2017/18, where the perceived religion of the victim was recorded, just over half (52%) of religious hate crime offences recorded by police in England and Wales were targeted against Muslims.

British security chiefs have warned of a rising threat from far-right terrorism.

Police say they have foiled four extreme right-wing plots in the last two years.

MI5 is taking on an increased role in assessing and investigating extreme right-wing terrorism, which police have historically led on.

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