Armed police are patrolling Leeds’s biggest shopping centres in the build up to Christmas to provide reassurance in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
Customers have reported their surprise at seeing officers carrying guns in the malls of the White Rose Shopping Centre and Trinity Leeds.
They are also keeping an eye on travellers using Leeds railway station and are walking the streets of the city centre.
West Yorkshire Police said the patrols were being carried out “in line with national guidance” and were not a response to a specific threat.
A father of two from said he had to look twice when he spotted two officers in their distinctive caps and vests while having a meal with his children at the Trinity centre.
“Although you see police with guns reasonably often, it’s still surprising when you see them in a shopping centre on a Sunday morning,” he said.
“It’s disconcerting but it makes you realise how seriously they are taking the threat of terrorism.”
The increase in patrols comes amid heightened concern for the safety of the public, particularly in crowded places, following the attacks in Paris which claimed the lives of 130 people on November 13.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Armed officers and high-visibility reassurance patrols have been increased across West Yorkshire in line with national guidance. This is not in response to any specific intelligence, or direct local threat.
“Our priority is the safety of our communities, and our officers are working 24/7 in order to protect the public from harm.
“The increased presence is to further facilitate that safety, and to allow people to continue to go about their daily business, whether that be working, socialising or shopping.
“We would encourage the public to continue to be alert and not alarmed, and if they witness any suspicious behaviour to contact police on 999 in an emergency or 101 otherwise.”
Information can also be passed to the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789321.
The shopping centres declined to comment.