Museums in Northampton have been placed on high alert after a regulatory body warned the threat of an “attack” on the town’s venues was “severe and imminent.”
A circular email was sent to a select network of museum associations across the UK this week from Arts Council England’s national security adviser, William Brown, calling on them to beef up security urgently.
Northampton Borough Council, which runs Northampton Museum and Arts Gallery and Abington Museum has received the circular and has advised staff at both venues to be vigilant.
Sywell Aviation Museum in Northamptonshire has also received the warning.
“The threat level of an attack on Museums has increased to severe and imminent,” Mr Brown wrote.
“All venues are asked to ensure that collections are held in facilities offering the best available defence against any attack.”
A spokesperson for Arts Council England said the circular did not refer to any form of terrorist threat, but was talking about the risk of “theft.”
The email went on to advise museum staff to be “extra vigilant” to visitors paying “undue attention to collections” and ensure all display cases are maintained and “frequently cleaned to ensure forensic evidence is possible.”
Mr Brown continued: “The practice of checks on the displays of all collections at opening, lunch and closing should be carried out for the foreseeable future.
“As dark evenings and nights approach rapidly it is a good time to ensure outside lighting is operating and the external aspects of museum buildings checked regularly.”
Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet member for community engagement, Councillor Brandon Eldred, (Con, East Hunsbury) said the staff at Northampton’s museums are aware of the warning.
He said: “We have received the email from Arts Council England, reviewed the advice and can confirm that Northampton Museums and Art Gallery are already carrying out all of the guidance offered.
“Staff have been informed and we have asked everyone to be vigilant and report anything suspicious, no matter how small, to the museum’s manager and operations team.”