All We Want For Christmas... Is Extra Security!

Safety at Christmas markets and holiday events is top of mind for most of us these days, no thanks to attacks that have taken place during the holidays in recent years.

Last festive season, this included an attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg, bombings in Athens, a vehicle attack in Barcelona, a tourist bus bombing in Giza, and a stabbing in Manchester. Attacks were also prevented or intercepted in Sweden, Turkey, Netherlands, and right here in the UK.

It’s good to see that even more cities and attractions are taking steps to make every visit safer. Here are a few examples of this year’s safety upgrades – check your holiday markets and events for similar safety measures to give yourself greater peace of mind.

 

In The UK

In York, the City Council has been working with police and various other partners to install new infrastructure that will help make the city centre safer for locals and visitors.

This includes:

  • Traffic slowing measures and chicanes
  • Reinforcing existing limits on traffic at peak times
  • Controlled entry for delivery vehicles at designated times

York Press spoke to Tom Brittain, assistant director of housing at York council, who explained: “Terror attacks in the UK can create a lot of concern. With our partners in the police, we are making the city centre more secure, and want to reassure everyone that we are prepared, and ready to help protect them."

Sheffield Christmas Market, which opened on 14 November, had anti-terrorist barriers in place, and the Star reports that South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (SYFR) firefighters are out in the area, “Meeting shoppers and supporting police.”

Birmingham’s German Christmas Market opened earlier in November, and West Midlands Police said they “wouldn’t be taking any chances” with 5 million visitors expected this year. Birmingham Live advises that uniformed and plainclothes police officers are doubling up with event security teams and sharing in formation, and that, “Safer Travel police teams will be patrolling buses, trains and trams going both in and out of the city during the busy period.”

 

Safety In Europe

Germany, France, Belgium and most other destinations in Europe have had serious security measures in place over the past few years, and all indications are that these measures will be equalled, if not exceeded, this year.

In 2018, the scene of Berlin’s tragic Christmas Market attack – Breitscheidplatz, Charlottenburg – had 60 giant, square, lattice-work frames on the perimeter, filled with sand- and stone-filled bags. Narrow access points were protected with extra bollards, and private security guards patrolled the market along with uniformed and plainclothes police.

At the time, Berlin authorities said they hoped this would become a blueprint for future security measures.

 

Further Afield

Countries beyond Europe have plenty of safety concerns too, and as we have seen this year with attacks in places such as Sri Lanka, there really is no such thing as a predictable terrorism target. We already know that top holiday destinations like New York City are gearing up for major holiday safety boosts.

Even Jamaica, which has not seen many acts of terrorism recently but has had political unrest, is taking holiday security precautions and putting 400 new soldiers on the streets to patrol alongside existing police forces over the festive season.

Jamaica’s Chief if Defence told the Jamaica Observer that, “This will result in more snap raids, more patrols, more checkpoints, and overall more soldiers and police in the affected communities. We expect that our increased operations will assist the police in targeting and arresting, or detaining gang members and other persons of interest, while denying them the freedom of movement to carry out illegal activities.”

 

Wherever you go, you should expect greater police and military presence, and it’s important to follow their instructions – for your own safety, and that of everyone around you. There will of course also be more security checks and searches, so give yourself time to get through those and time to wait in longer queues. It may mean waking up an hour earlier, but the additional safety and peace of mind will really be worth it!

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