Police offer reassurance to North East places of worship after priest killed in France

Fr Jacques Hamel was killed by two men thought to be acting on behalf of Islamic State.
Fr Jacques Hamel was killed by two men thought to be acting on behalf of Islamic State.
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Police have provided reassurance to places of worship on Wearside after a priest was killed in a French church.

Fr Jacques Hamel, 85, had his throat slashed during Tuesday’s morning mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy.

We have been providing reassurance across our communities, including Christian places of worship and offering advice to anyone who has concerns about the safety of people in the region

Winton Keenen

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killing, describing the two knifemen who carried out the killing as its “soldiers”.

Police have moved to ease concerns among the Christian community across the city following the terror attack.

Northumbria Police deputy chief constable Winton Keenen said: “The thoughts of everyone in are very much with those who have been affected by the terrible atrocities of recent weeks.

“Many people in our local communities will be particularly concerned about the incident in Saint Etienne where a priest was targetted in an act of terror.

“At this time there is nothing to indicate a specific threat to our communities across Northumbria, and the North East continues to be one of the safest places in the UK.

“In keeping with our colleagues across the country, we have been providing reassurance across our communities, including Christian places of worship and offering advice to anyone who has concerns about the safety of people in the region.

“This is part of our on-going work with a variety of faith organisations and the wider general public, to help ensure the safety and security of those living, working and visiting the North East.

“We continue to urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to their local officers or via the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789321. In an emergency always dial 999.”

The Northumbria Police response comes after the National Police Chiefs’ Council said the Christian community should be “alert but not alarmed”.

Deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said: “There is no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community in the UK. We are reiterating our protective security advice to Christian places.

“We are also taking this opportunity to remind them to review their security arrangements as a precaution.”