Galloway should not be seen as soft target

Chief superintendent Gary Ritchie
Chief superintendent Gary Ritchie

The Your View Counts survey showed that respondents in Dumfries and Galloway recognise terrorism as the top national priority for Police Scotland, yet it did not feature in the top five local priorities for Dumfries and Galloway.

Chief Superintendent Gary Ritchie, Divisional Commander for Dumfries and Galloway said this week that this is ‘both encouraging and concerning’.

He said: “Encouraging because people rightly recognise the area is a safe place to live, work and visit and where there would appear to be very few obvious targets for those bent on launching the type of attacks we’ve seen elsewhere. This is undoubtedly true but what concerns me is that this could lead to complacency and an “it’ll never happen here” attitude which potentially could expose the region as weak.

“There has been plenty in the news recently regarding the UK being prepared to react to a terrorist attack and it’s not by accident that that increased preparation is taking place all across the country, in every region.

“The truth is we simply do not know where or when the next terrorist attack will take place or what form that will be, so we have to be ready everywhere. What history has shown is that terrorists are attracted to high tariff, significant targets, iconic structures and locations, areas where mass casualties can result.

“Recent events however, such as the brutal killing of a priest in a quiet suburban town in France and the targeting of military personnel in Norfolk, have also shown that terrorists will look at areas which they would consider soft targets. I therefore think it is hugely important to ensure that our area is not seen as a soft target.

“Police Scotland has recently announced an increase in the number of armed officers that will be deployed making us even better prepared and able to respond quickly and effectively if the worst happens. As with everything though, public support is crucial and we need our communities to let us know if they see any behaviour which they might consider suspicious.

“I would reiterate that this region is very safe, there is no direct threat and the message to our communities is don’t be alarmed but be aware. Terrorists are the same as every other criminal, they can only operate in the shadows, it is up to us as a community to shine the light.”