Police slam reporters for scoping out Belfast security

The front page of today's Belfast Telegraph
The front page of today's Belfast Telegraph

Police have hit out at reporters who tested security at four of the city’s busiest tourist attractions in the wake of the Manchester terror attack.

The Belfast Telegraph has today carried a story on its front page with the headline: “Just how safe are we really?”

It comes after a suicide bomber killed 22 people – including young children – at a concert in Manchester on Monday, resulting in the UK’s terror threat level being raised to its highest level.

Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph visited four venues; Titanic Belfast, the Odyssey Pavilion, the grounds of City Hall and Victoria Square shopping centre.

One of its reporters carried a large black rucksack– which the paper said “could have contained explosives” – into each of the venues. The reporter also left the bag alone for around five minutes, although monitored it from a distance.

According to the paper, on just one occasion the bag was searched - by security staff at Belfast City Hall.

The PSNI has this morning taken to social media to condemn the article and appealed for people to behave responsibly.

Assistant chief constable Barbara Gray said: “Actions such as this do nothing to help provide a feeling of safety for those living, working and visiting Belfast.

“It does not benefit anyone and indeed may create an increased and unnecessary fear during an already difficult and unsettling period.

“The community across Northern Ireland should feel reassured that police are deploying all available resources to deal with this threat, the threat of dissident republicans and to continue to deliver a policing service to keep all communities across Northern Ireland safe.”

The article also drew criticism from a number of people on Facebook, with one person posting: “What kind of scare mongering nonsense is this? Also an attempt to sell papers by pretending to be responsible but also acting in incredibly poor taste.”