The police were invited to attend the meeting in the church hall on May 13 after concerns were raised due to events around the world of religious communities being attacked by extremists.
Parishioners listened attentively on what John Dolan, Counter Terrorism Advisor, had to say regarding what to look out for, and how to report any suspicious behaviour or activities in or around the church by people unknown to the parish community.
It was highlighted by the counter terrorism officer that there is no specific threat against any faith communities, but all should be vigilant in the course of everyday worship.
“This presentation is about making people aware of how to prevent an incident occurring, what to during and in the aftermath of an attack. It is not to alarm people in anyway, but to ensure that everyone is kept safe,” said John.
Throughout the presentation, people were able to raise questions regarding fears and concerns. John soon put those fears and concerns to rest by giving reassurance and acknowledged that security is a key concern in light of terror attacks across the world. John also mentioned that the police are working with the Catholic National Shrine at Walsingham regarding pilgrimages.
The message was clear, during an incident – get out if able, hide, call the police on 999. If people suspect anything untoward, report it. John could not stress enough how important it is to report and challenge unusual behaviour, for it could ultimately save lives.
At the end of the presentation, Mgr Canon Peter Leeming, Parish Priest of Thetford thanked John on behalf of the whole parish for the very informative talk which gave people something to think about as they left.
The police are offering this presentation free to all community groups across the diocese. The safety of everyone is paramount. If your church wishes to have a presentation, please do get in contact with your local police who are more than happy to come and offer their expertise in this field.
Pictured is John Dolan from Norfolk Police giving his counter terrorism presentation in Thetford.