UK Army on patrol in London

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Update: The army presence on the streets of london ended 5 days later

The Police Service released the following statement today (11.2.02) regarding the involvement of the Army in security patrols in the capital:

"From time to time, it is necessary to raise levels of security activity. We think it is prudent to do so now. The current strengthening of security is precautionary and is related to action being taken in other countries and the possibility that the end of the religious festival of Eid may erroneously be used by Al Qaida and associated networks to mount attacks.The strengthened security, which is likely to be most visible to the public at Heathrow Airport, relates to a potential threat to the capital.

'The heightened arrangements include the use of military personnel in support of the Police Service. The use of troops is part of a long-standing contingency, authorised by the government, for example during the Provisional IRA campaign.

"To avoid prejudicing ongoing operations, we do not intend to give any further details of security arrangements, other than to say that this action is in line with the policy of taking whatever action we believe necessary to protect the public."

Comment: Press reports (BBC, Guardian) lay emphasis on the use of the army at Heathrow airport, however, the police statement makes clear that deployment is wider and there are to be "army security patrols in the capital". It is reported that 450 troops are involved for an indefinite period. The use of troops in a civil situation has to be authorised by the government under the Emergency Powers Act.

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