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Staying vigilent and playing our part in combatting terrorism

After the Manchester attack PCC Alison Hernandez says we can’t live our lives in fear, otherwise the terrorists win

Everyone with children, particularly daughters, will have hugged them a little bit tighter this week. The horrific events in Manchester remind us of how much we care for those around us as we mourn with parents who have lost their children.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the attack in Westminster that killed PC Keith Palmer and four other people. There is something even more shocking about the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert. The Houses of Parliament is a place that we all accept requires protection. When I visit Westminster you see hundreds of police officers on gates and in the immediate vicinity.
We have come to expect that our seat of government is a target from not only terrorists with evil intent, but also demonstrators, or just a misguided person with a point to prove.  
If you haven’t got young girls in your house you might never have heard of Ariana Grande before. She is a talented young American actress and singer who is the hero for many young girls and women who go under the nickname ‘the Arianators’.
The thousands who attended the concert went for a long anticipated great night out and up until the bomb was detonated that is what everyone had enjoyed. Now Ariana Grande will be associated with this tragic incident rather than joyous events like her concerts.
I do worry about children in these situations. We all want them to grow up free from fear. Being young should be about enjoying yourself without all the pressures of the world bearing down.
Now, more than ever, it is important that we do not allow our children to become gripped by fear.
I know that some fantastic victim care services, like the ones we have down here in Devon and Cornwall, will be working with those that attended the Manchester concert. However, this event may have affected children across the country.
Parents must now reassure their own children and teach them that being vigilant isn’t the same as being scared. We are vigilant because we care for our own safety and the safety of those around us.
If we live our lives in fear then the terrorists will have started to win.
As the summer approaches I hope that each of us will visit enjoyable events across Devon and Cornwall and, while we should increase our vigilance, we must not change our behaviour.
We all have a part to play in combatting terrorism. If we notice anything suspicious then we should call the police. If the concern is immediate then call 999. If you have some concerns about something that is not creating an immediate threat you can call 101, email or the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.
However, the important thing is to make the call.  The police would always rather decide whether a concern from a member of the public should be followed up rather than never hearing about that concern.
For those of you with children you should also sit them down and tell them what to do if they become suspicious.
At the same time it is also important to ensure that we remember the value of tolerance and understanding.
This act was committed by a very evil man. Whatever claims might be made to justify these killings, they have no basis in religion of any type.
We have many different groups represented throughout Devon and Cornwall that will have all been equally horrified by these murders. The killer would like to create division between us so we must respond by showing understanding to our neighbours whatever their colour, creed or religion.
So as I reflect back on this truly horrific crime I will also remember my beautiful family and friends, the fantastic people who live across Devon and Cornwall and what a joy it is to be together in this place.
Alison Hernandez