IT is a sad reflection on these times, and the nature of the terrorist threat facing the country, that it is now felt necessary to erect protective security barriers in front of the magnificent York Minster.
Anti-terror barrier installed outside York Minster
Even though many will be saddened by this development as work begins on the installation of the physical barriers, it is, however, a necessary precaution if it ensures the safety of its many visitors and worshippers each year.
As tragic events in London, Europe and America have demonstrated so chillingly, the cowardly use of vehicles, large and small, as weapons of mass destruction is changing the dynamics of counter-terrorism operations as the tactics – and targets – of extremists becomes more unpredictable.
That the Home Office’s Counter-Terrorism Unit has recommended this work highlights the nature of the threat and the risk to not only visitors, but the very fabric of one of Christianity’s most sacred buildings. Yet, it is possible to remove the barriers, if the threat recedes, and other cities have shown that it is possible to introduce such measures sensitively, and with minimal detriment to the surrounding environment.
However, as the country’s city and town centres prepare for an influx of shoppers prior to Christmas, two wider points need to be made. First the police, and security services, deserve the public’s fullest co-operation – their job is an invidious one. Second, the best defence of all is better community relations between all faiths in order to identify those potential killers who seek to divide and rule. They will never succeed.