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British Transport Police (BTP) has its first regional counter terrorism unit at Birmingham New Street station. The opening of the Midlands hub is described by the force as part of a major uplift in BTP’s counter terrorism (CT).
The ‘uplift’ in numbers and spread of armed police in the UK after the Manchester and London terrorist incidents last year was featured in the January 2018 print issue of Professional Security magazine.
BTP has recruited an initial team of firearms officers and a specialist support dog and handler who will be working alongside regular officers. The counter terrorism hub brings a dedicated resource for the region, enabling BTP to respond more quickly to incidents and provide reassurance to passengers and rail staff. BTP adds that specialist officers have been patrolling stations and on trains outside London since 2017. They receive specialist training on working in confined environments such as trains and stations and take part in regular exercises across the railway. A second regional CT hub is planned for the north west later this year.
Supt Chris Horton, BTP Specialist Operations, said: “We want the public to be reassured that wherever they go on the rail network, we have highly trained people there to protect them if needed. The opening of the Midlands hub provides us with a regional base for our specialist operations teams which means we can better respond to incidents should they occur, as well as patrol the network more effectively, reaching most of the country in a relatively short space of time.
“We have been preparing for the opening of the Midlands hub for some time so the new team is not being introduced in relation to any specific intelligence or threat. Our specialist officers are there to reassure, protect and respond to any incident should the need arise. They will be highly visible on the network and particularly around Birmingham New Street station, engaging with the public every day so people will get used to seeing them around.”
“In the current climate, we know how important it is to make sure we have specialist officers in the right place at the right time to keep people safe.”
Photo courtesy of BTP.