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Cressida Dick, the UK’s Metropolitan Police commissioner, has hinted at changes in levels of protection for the police following the murder of PC Keith Palmer, killed by a lone attacker while on duty at Westminster last month.

“I think there will have to be changes” Commissioner Dick told the BBC’s Today programme. “I’m sure we wil see more physical protection for crowded places”, she said.

PC Palmer was unarmed when he was stabbed to death by Khalid Masood while carrying out his duties on the cobbled forecourt of the Palace of Westminster.

However the commissioner said she did not think the tragedy could have been avoided had the officer been carrying a firearm.

“It appears to me in this particular scenario it is very hard to say that if Keith had been armed he would be alive today. The speed of the attack. Action beats reaction is what the firearms officers always say to me.”

She added that given there were members of the public close by “even if he had had a firearm it might have been difficult for him to have a shot”.

Decisons about where to deploy armed officers are made on a daily basis, said Commissioner Dick.

“Those are based on what we understand to be the threat and the risk and what we want to achieve. There were armed officers in the vicinity . Parliament was protected” she said.

Commissioner Dick, who took up her post earlier this month, is the first woman to lead the Met, and presides over a £3bn budget, in charge of 32,000 officers looking after a city of 8.5m people.

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