Edinburgh festive chiefs on alert after Paris attacks

Organisers will look to keep Edinburgh safe during the celebrations over Christmas and New Year. Picture: Jane Barlow
Organisers will look to keep Edinburgh safe during the celebrations over Christmas and New Year. Picture: Jane Barlow
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ORGANISERS of hundreds of festive events across Scotland have been put on terror alert in the wake of the Paris attacks, police chiefs have revealed.

Senior officials believe Christmas nights out to the theatre, concert and even pantomines are likely targets, along with city centre nightclubs, should Scotland be targeted by terrorists.

We all have an increased responsibility to ensure all events are safe

Bernie Higgins

They have told venue bosses, promoters and event organisers to review security plans and guard against complacency in the run-up to Christmas.

Event organisers were urged to speak to the police “as soon as possible” to ensure the right security arrangements are in place over the next few weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of revellers are expected to flock into Edinburgh city centre over the next few weeks to take in attractions, shows and the capital’s Hogmanay celebrations.

Highlighting the current “severe” terror threat to the UK, assistant chief constable Bernie Higgins, who was speaking at an events conference in Edinburgh, stressed: “We are living in a severe space and we just need to be really conscious of that.”

He added: “In the wake of Paris, we all have an increased responsibility to ensure all events are absolutely safe.

“Paris changed our whole planning assumptions about a marauding terrorist firearms attack. Up until then there was an assumption based on a two-seat attack. In Paris there were three groups of terrorists who attacked seven different locations.

“The assessment that we’ve done in Scotland, supported by the UK threat, is that the most likely form of attack on UK soil is on sporting events, music or theatre, or the night-time economy, so that is city centres at night-time, in nightclubs and when people are spilling out of nightclubs.

“Between now and Christmas we have got more than 3000 in Scotland, with 1000 of them falling into that category. It is the middle of the panto season - between now and Christmas there are something like 700 performances.

“We have very quickly assessed all these events and have contacted the people responsible for them to just make sure that the security over-lay, the safety over-lay and the policing over-lay is appropriate.

“To give some reassurance, there is absolutely no intelligence or anything else to suggest that Scotland or the wider UK is going to be attacked anytime soon. But we are living in a severe space and we just need to be really conscious of that.”

ACC Higgins was speaking days after Police Scotland said it had “no appetite” to increase the number of armed officers on the streets in the wake of the Paris attacks. The Scottish Police Federation has called for more officers to carry their weapons in public, saying Scotland was “woefully under-equipped, under-resourced and under-prepared” for an attack.

Mr Higgins added: “If you are an event organiser you should speak to the police as early as you possibly can and we will do an over-lay of security, see exactly what you need and make sure it is appropriate.”