Why a major police presence was seen in Bristol city centre today

A major police presence was spotted in Bristol city centre today – but not because officers had been called to deal with a specific crime. Riot vans and police horses were seen outside the Old Council House on Corn Street at around 1.30pm, according to an eyewitness.

But Avon and Somerset Constabulary has explained that this was a ‘Project Servator’ deployment. The force’s website explains: “Project Servator is the name given to unpredictable, highly visible police deployments carried out by Avon and Somerset Police and other police forces designed to disrupt a wide range of criminal activity.

“The tactics aim to identify and disrupt hostile reconnaissance – the information gathering a criminal does when planning to commit a criminal act, including terrorist attacks. Our officers are experienced and specially trained to spot the tell-tale signs that someone may be carrying out hostile reconnaissance or preparing to commit a crime. They work with security staff to look out for those signs and take action.”

Read more: Police investigate after charity set ablaze in suspected arson

During these operations, specially-trained uniformed officers will turn up unannounced at various locations. The deployments can happen at any time and can last for different amounts of time.

According to the police website, you should not be concerned if you see these operations happening. The site explains: “We encourage the public to speak to officers during deployments and they will be happy to explain what they are doing and answer any questions you have.”

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