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Security to be reviewed at UK parliament

Press Association logoPress Association 23/03/2017

Security at Britain's parliament is being reviewed following the horrific attack that left one of the Palace of Westminster's police officers dead.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the police "heroically" did their job in the incident, in which officer Keith Palmer was stabbed to death.

Terrorist Khalid Masood was shot dead by police but questions have been asked about the security arrangements in the political heart of the UK.

Former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers suggested it was time to consider whether police who guard "sensitive sites" such as parliament should routinely carry "personal protection weapons" even if they were not formally part of an armed response unit.

In her House of Commons statement, May told MPs: "In terms of security here in Westminster, we should be clear first of all that an attacker attempted to break into parliament and was shot dead within 20 yards of the gates.

"If his intention was to gain access to this building, we should be clear that he did not succeed.

"The police heroically did their job.

"But as is routine, the police together with the House authorities are reviewing the security of the parliamentary estate, co-ordinated with the Cabinet Office, who have responsibility for the security measures in place around the government secure zone."

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the review would look at whether security arrangements were "adequate" and whether police at the front gates should be armed.

But he said it was neither possible nor desirable to seal parliament off from the public.

Asked why a policeman on the front line at one of the country's most prominent potential terrorist targets was unarmed, Sir Michael told Sky News: "Some police in parliament are armed and some are unarmed.

"Obviously the security arrangements of the Commons will now be reviewed to see whether that is completely adequate."

But "parliament can't be hermetically sealed".

"We have visitors, quite rightly, we are the home of democracy. Our constituents come and see us," he said.

"It's not possible to seal off parliament from the public, nor would that be desirable."

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