Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Police guard schools in Moat hunt

Police stand guard at Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School in Rothbury, Northumberland
Police stand guard at Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School in Rothbury, Northumberland
Police are hunting fugitive gunman Raoul Moat

Armed police are standing guard outside schools in Rothbury after worried parents asked for extra security as the hunt for fugitive gunman Raoul Moat entered a seventh day.

They will remain stationed inside the small Northumberland town's three schools while they are open, at the request of locals at a packed public meeting with senior officers on Thursday night.

Temporary deputy chief constable Jim Campbell said: "We've made it very clear the safety of the public is our primary concern and if they tell us doing something will make them feel safer, then we will respond.

"The community has told us they'd like to see officers in Rothbury's three schools, so from this morning that will be in place."

At Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School, most pupils were bussed in or dropped off by car, with very few walking in. Children were greeted by staff as they arrived, while armed police talked to parents outside school.

Officers in 4x4s were making regular patrols across the pretty tourist destination, which has seen a marked drop in visitors since the hunt for Moat centred there.

At the meeting on Thursday night, temporary chief constable Sue Sim said some parents felt uneasy about their children seeing police around the schools.

But she added: "You are telling us we would prefer to have police officers at the school, you can have police officers at the school while the school is open."

The promise came after area commander Chief Superintendent Mark Dennett said the decision to keep schools open while the gunman was believed to be in the area was down to individual headteachers.

"There is no specific threat against the schools, children or anybody else in the Rothbury area," she added.

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