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Top cop terror warning to protect East End's iconic landmarks

PUBLISHED: 20:56 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:30 05 October 2010

Det Chief Ins Rickett taking up his new borough commander post

Det Chief Ins Rickett taking up his new borough commander post

THE new police commander for London's East End has given a serious terror warning and vowed to protect potential targets like Canary Wharf, the Tower of London and the East London Mosque. The new Tower Hamlets borough commander this week signalled that counter-terrorism operations would be his priority. Det Chief Supt Paul Rickett wants to protect iconic landmarks and identify people at risk of radicalisation' in his bid to tackling extremism

EXCLUSIVE by Victoria Huntley

THE new police commander for London's East End has given a serious terror warning and vowed to protect potential targets like Canary Wharf, the Tower of London and the East London Mosque.

The new Tower Hamlets borough commander, Det Chief Supt Paul Rickett, this week signalled that counter-terrorism operations would be his priority.

He wanted to protect iconic landmarks and identify people at risk of 'radicalisation' in his bid to tackling extremism.

The 42-year-old police chief's last post was in the neighbouring East London borough of Waltham Forest where he helped uncover an alleged terrorist plot to blow up passenger airliners over the Atlantic.

He pledged in an interview with the East London Advertiser to dedicate resources to protecting famous sites and vowed to tackle extremists head on.

The diverse population of Tower Hamlets rendered the vulnerable to 'radicalisation,' he added.

"It has a diverse ethnic make-up with a large Bengali population where some people may be susceptible to radicalisation," he said.

"Most days I will have to deal with counter-terrorism to some degree.

"Tower Hamlets is an iconic London borough and is at the forefront of how you grip and deal with these difficult issues.

"You have to be alive and vigilant to the possibility there may be extremism in our midst.

"It would be remiss of me not to commit resources."

Mr Rickett, who is in Tower Hamlets for the long haul and was "chuffed to bits" when he was offered the post, took up his new position two weeks ago at Bethnal Green police station, replacing former borough commander Jerry Savill.

He is using the skills he honed during his time in charge of Operation Overt, the investigation into an alleged international terrorist plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic.

Some 14 of the 22 suspects arrested across the country lived on Mr Rickett's Waltham Forest 'manor' when arrested.

He lives in Hertfordshire with his partner Debbie, their two-year-old daughter Olivia and step-daughters Danielle, 20, and Nicole, 18.

But he insists he can be in the East End in 40 minutes in an emergency.

The new chief, who only joined the Metropolitan Police in 2002 after an early career in the Hertfordshire Police, also dropped a hint that Limehouse police station may close.

The Met has just finished a consultation on the future of its police stations and Limehouse was no longer "fit for purpose" for a modern force.

The police station in West India Dock-road, just a stone's throw from Canary Wharf, was "a pretty unpleasant place to be" for officers and staff.

He doesn't want "an unpleasant environment" for his staff.

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