The British Transport Police (BTP) has opened its first regional counter-terrorism unit as part of a “major uplift” in its counter-terrorism capabilities.
BTP said the introduction of the unit at Birmingham New Street station is in response to the terrorist incidents that took place in 2017, which saw BTP at the forefront of the national policing response.
Superintendent Chris Horton, BTP specialist operations, stressed that the Midlands hub is not being introduced in relation to any specific intelligence or threat but as part of longer-term plans.
A second regional unit is expected to open in the North West later this year.
A team of firearms officers and a specialist support dog and handler will work from the unit alongside regular BTP officers.
Supt Horton added: “We want the public to be reassured that wherever they go on the rail network, we have highly trained people there to protect them if needed.
“The opening of the Midlands hub provides us with a regional base for our specialist operations teams which means we can better respond to incidents should they occur, as well as patrol the network more effectively, reaching most of the country in a relatively short space of time.
“Our specialist officers are there to reassure, protect and respond to any incident should the need arise. They will be highly visible on the network and particularly around Birmingham New Street station, engaging with the public every day so people will get used to seeing them around.”
Specialist BTP officers have been patrolling stations and on trains outside London since 2017.
They receive training on working in confined environments such as trains and stations and take part in regular exercises across the network.