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Petition started in Golders Green calls for armed security at synagogues

PUBLISHED: 11:49 11 December 2015 | UPDATED: 14:48 16 December 2015

A call has been made for armed guards outside synagogues and other Jewish institutions

A call has been made for armed guards outside synagogues and other Jewish institutions

A petition started by a man from Golders Green calling for armed security for synagogues and Jewish institutions has reached over 5,000 signatures in four days.

Moses Hoffman is calling for the government to follow the example of some European countries and provide protection “following numerous fatal terror attacks”.

The petition states: “The threat level in Europe is getting worse and, as evidenced, is turning from anti-Semitic assaults into terror attacks, with innocent people being murdered.”

Mr Hoffman refers to the claim by the CST (Community Security Trust) that: “Anti-Semitism in the UK is at its worst level since records began” and adds that it is impossible for a policeman or security guard without a weapon to protect synagogues, schools and other institutions from terrorists.

More than 1,000 of those who have signed the petition are from the Finchley and Golders Green constituency, a past target for neo-Nazi groups.

But Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer told the Ham&High that he doesn’t support the petition.

Mr Freer said: “The problem is, which buildings should they be outside? All of them? What about Temple Fortune? What about Finchley? What about Stamford Hill?

“It’s an obvious reaction, but it’s not one that I would support because of the implications. Armed guards patrolling suburban streets and centres would send the wrong message.”

Referring to the massacre at a newspaper office in Paris this January, he said: “If you look at the attack on Charlie Hebdo, they had armed police officers inside the offices and it made no difference.

“At any one time, the Met are very much on the ball. Prevention is the real key, and there is no real evidence that armed guards would prevent anything, and in fact, quite the reverse.”

And speaking off the record, a representative of an Orthodox synagogue said she didn’t think armed security was necessary.

She said: “I think it raises the bar, and not in a good way. We don’t have a major problem with guns in this country, fortunately. If you put an armed security guard outside, then if there is a terror attack, all it means is that poor guard is first to be killed.

“These incidents are, thankfully, few and far between, but if it’s going to happen, then it’s going to happen, and I’d actually rather we took our chances with that than become like a fortress.”

If a petition on the government’s website reaches 100,000 signatures, it has to be considered for a Parliamentary debate.

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