Cop tsar says force well set in wake of soldier’s murder

Lee Rigby.

Lee Rigby.

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West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has insisted the force is well equipped to respond to an incident similar to the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

Mark Burns-Williamson said he had been given assurances by Chief Constable Mark Gilmore that “appropriate measures are in place” should such an attack happen.

Mr Burns-Williamson, who is responsible for overseeing West Yorkshire Police, was responding to questions at the Police and Crime Panel meeting at Wakefield Town Hall yesterday.

Panel member Coun Ken Smith raised concerns following reports that it took armed officers from the Metropolitan Police 14 minutes to get to the scene of the attack on 25-year-old Drummer Rigby in Woolwich, south east London, on May 22.

Coun Smith said: “We need to be reassured that we have enough roving armed officers to have what we would regard as a more acceptable response.”

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “When things of this nature do happen, I always check with the chief and the command team to make sure we have the right resilience and capability to deal with it if and when it does occur.

“The assurance I have been given is that we have the capability to deal with it.

“I can give you reassurances that this is something very much on the radar and the appropriate measures are in place.”

Drummer Rigby was hacked to death on a street near Woolwich Barracks, where he was based.

Suspects Michael Adebolajo, 28, from Romford, Essex, and Michael Adebowale, 22, from Greenwich, south east London, are due in court for a preliminary hearing on June 28.

Mr Burns-Williamson said he had written directly to Mr Rigby’s widow, Rebecca, to offer condolences following her husband’s death.

He added that he had been encouraged that the incident had not sparked problems in West Yorkshire.

There have been reports of a sharp rise in anti-Muslim incidents since Drummer Rigby’s murder. A mosque in Muswell Hill, north London, was burned to the ground in a suspected arson attack this week.

But Mr Burns-Williamson said: “Given the media coverage we might have expected more of a backlash, but that hasn’t been the case.

“What I have been heartened by in West Yorkshire is the mature response of communities and community leaders and that’s a huge credit to people for recognising this for what it was – two absolute mad men committing an atrocious crime.”

“There have not been any particular threats or risks to service personnel that have been identified at this time, but of course intelligence and vigilance are heightened as a result.”

He said that discussions had taken place with police in each division in the county about potential problems.

But he added: “Each district was able to confirm that there was no apparent rise in tension.

“Nevertheless, police have committed to providing extra patrols. There has been a very mature debate and we all condemn what happened.”

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