Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham Cathedral shuts amid critical terror threat

Birmingham Cathedral
Image caption The cathedral was closed on Wednesday while security arrangements were reviewed

An "unprecedented" decision was taken to shut Birmingham Cathedral in response to the national terror threat level being increased to critical.

Acting dean, the Reverend Canon Nigel Hand, said it was taken to put increased security arrangements in place.

The building will reopen on Thursday, he said.

Some services took place publicly in Cathedral Square while the building was closed.

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Analysis: Ashley Peatfield, editor, BBC Religion and Ethics

Nobody takes a decision to close a cathedral lightly. For centuries they have been places where people have sought sanctuary. The modern expression of that is often seen in the numbers visiting them to light candles and say prayers at times of national grief.

Birmingham has done its best to recognise the public need while still closing its doors. It has continued with acts of worship in its grounds - aided by good weather. The dean and others will have been uncomfortable at having to close.

Birmingham Cathedral does appear to have gone further than any other in the country. Closing its doors outstripped the response at York Minster where security has been tightened. Other cathedrals have seen a higher police presence too.

However, it was doing what it's been told it should by security advisers outside the church. They were mindful that to do the opposite of the agreed policy would leave them open to severe criticism especially if something happened. Better to take time to consult and reflect. Having done that they can now feel confident to adopt a change of direction and reopen.

The decision was made following Monday's Manchester Arena attack, which left 22 dead and 64 injured.

Read more: Manchester attack

Image caption The Reverend Canon Nigel Hand said the move was "unprecedented"

The Rev Canon Hand said: "We have relationships with counter terrorism, who have encouraged us to have a rapid response policy in place should the terrorist rating go to critical.

"The closure of the cathedral afforded us the time to make the necessary decisions and arrangements to ensure that we will open the cathedral tomorrow, with increased security presence in place."

Elsewhere, York Minster said it had increased security measures following the terror attack with extra high visibility patrols by its cathedral constables around the cathedral and its precinct.

It also introduced random bag searches at its visitor entrances, while large bags and suitcases are no longer allowed inside the cathedral.