Counter terrorism police have urged businesses including Chester Zoo and the cathedral to step up their security against a potential terrorist attack.

Cheshire police met with business owners from across the city to help them deal with security challenges on a daily basis and in the event of a major incident in the run up to Christmas.

Specialist officers, from the Counter Terrorism Unit, briefed members of Cheshire West and Chester Council, community wardens, PCSOs, local retailers and representatives from the zoo, during a meeting at Chester Cathedral on Monday (November 24).

The briefing comes after the international threat level was increased to severe, but police have stressed they do not consider any of these landmarks or businesses to be a target.

Operation Griffin – part of a national Counter Terrorism Awareness Week with forces briefing businesses across the region – saw officers advise staff at cinemas, sporting centres, businesses, and places of worship on how to prevent violent extremism, cut off terrorist financing and prevent access to tools that terrorists need to carry out attacks.

Staff at the Grosvenor Shopping Centre say they received additional training as part of the operation.

Chief Superintendent Andy Southcott, from Cheshire Police, said it was about making the public aware and ‘ears and eyes’ rather than an actual threat and that the business came under a theme of ‘Crowded Places’.

“Just because we are at a severe threat level does not mean we are under attack.”

“If you see something suspicious you should report it. It might be absolutely nothing but it is better to report it.”

Assistant chief constable Ian Wiggett, the North West lead for counter terrorism, said: “Following the increase of the international terrorism threat to severe, there is a heightened need to ensure that the North West is in the best position to deter and detect potential terrorist threats.

“The week highlights the importance of training people to look out for suspicious behaviour and what they should do if an attack happens, along with preventing terrorism and radicalisation.

“It is important to protect vulnerable people by responding to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it.

“This is not about scaring people, but highlighting that everybody, from law enforcement to businesses, to the general public, has a role to play in keeping the UK safe from terrorism. We encourage people to be vigilant to things that are out of place or suspicious and report it to the police.”