Extra security measures are being implemented in the town centre of Gibraltar, following recent attacks in London where terrorists used vans to drive into groups of people.
Temporary barriers have been erected at the ends of Main Street and intersections with it, and the government is working with the Royal Gibraltar Police on the viability of more permanent measures, bearing in mind that residents and emergency and delivery vehicles need access to the area despite it being mainly pedestrianised.
One idea being considered is the installation of retractable bollards in strategic locations.
News of the latest attack in London, in which eight people are known to have died and over 40 were injured, has increased concern among many people in Gibraltar about a similar attack being possible there, and a situation arose on Tuesday where the police were called at 2pm to investigate reports that a possible terrorist had been seen in the Casemates area.
Like Chinese whispers, the rumour quickly spread that the man in question was carrying a sword. The police used social media to publish a photo of him and ask for information about his whereabouts, and he was located and apprehended about 3.30pm.
His ‘sword’ was found to be nothing more than a musical instrument, but the authorities have adopted a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach and welcome any reports of possible problems even if they later turn out to be false alarms.
In fact, the RGP website www.police.gi is encouraging people to be vigilant and always report any type of suspicious behaviour, as part of its counter-terrorism policy. The emergency phone number to ring is 199 in Gibraltar, and the non-emergency line is (00350) 20072500.
The police have also published an Awareness Guide with contact details so members of the public can help them protect the community and improve safety. It can be downloaded from the website, together with their ‘Stay Safe’ leaflet with advice on what to do if caught up in any terrorist incident.