Why armed police will be at these key Yorkshire shopping centres this Christmas

Heading into town for the Christmas shopping can be a stressful time.

Armed police will be visible in various Yorkshire shopping centres
Armed police will be visible in various Yorkshire shopping centres

But police across Yorkshire are hoping to make the annual descent on the shops a much more difficult time for criminals this festive season.

North Yorkshire Police is joining West Yorkshire Police in rolling out Project Servator, an unpredicable policing plan which will see an increased police presence at shopping centres at random times to catch out criminals and terrorists.

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Residents and visitors to Harrogate will see an increased police presence in the run up to Christmas as North Yorkshire Police roll out Project Servator across the town.

Armed police will be visible in various Yorkshire shopping centres

It’s a tactic that sees the unpredictable deployment of both highly visible and covert police officers alongside other resources such as police dogs, Automatic Number Plate Recognition, firearms officers, and CCTV in busy areas such as town centres.

These deployments can pop up at any time with officers specially trained to deter, disrupt and detect a range of crimes from pickpockets to terrorism.

This comes after Servator was launched in Leeds recently and the operation is also in effect in Scarborough and York in the past.

North Yorkshire Police first launched Project Servator in York in April 2017 and has since been rolled out in Catterick and Scarborough where it is now “business as usual”. It is now set to be a regular sight in Harrogate.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: "Key to the success of Project Servator is the support of people living, working and visiting the area to be extra eyes and ears for the police, reporting any suspicious behaviour to help make it even harder for criminals to succeed."

Acting Superintendent John Wilkinson of the County Command area, which includes Harrogate, said: “Building on the success of Servator across the rest of the force, I’m delighted to be able to roll out this highly effective policing tactic in Harrogate.

“Our officers have been engaging with businesses and the local community over the last month to introduce them to the Project Servator concept and explain the vital role they have to play.

“Don’t be surprised or alarmed if you see a heavy police presence in key shopping or tourist areas, these are simply to prevent crime and engage with shoppers, visitors and businesses. If you see us, please stop and say hello and find out how you can help us keep Harrogate safe.”

To report suspicious activity, call police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

You can also report suspicious activity that you believe may be linked to terrorism confidentially on 0800 789 321 or online at the Action