1. ITV Report

Armed officers to patrol Christmas markets in the South West

Police with semi automatic weapons were spotted at Exeter Christmas Market earlier today. Credit: ITV News Westcountry

Armed officers from Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police are patrolling busy shopping areas in the run up to Christmas.

However, both forces insist it is not in relation to any specific threat, or that the terror threat level nationally or locally is set to rise.

Specialist officers with semi-automatic weapons were seen at Exeter Christmas Market earlier, along with a variety of sniffer dog units.

Sniffer dogs were also deployed, to detect any signs of illegal substances or explosives. Credit: ITV News Westcountry

It brings Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police into line with several other forces from across the UK, that have adopted similar exercises after the terrorist attack at Berlin Christmas Market last year, which killed 12 people.

Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, from Devon and Cornwall Police says the public have noting to fear, and that the presence of guns on the streets is for reassurance:

The presence of the officers had a generally positive response from the public.

Especially from the stall-holders at the market, who were given prior warning that they may see armed police in and around their businesses.

Stall holders give their reaction to the armed police presence:

Both police forces say officers will be patrolling "key locations" but have not stressed exactly where these will be.

However, the focus of their operations will be in the busy shopping areas of cities like Exeter and Plymouth.

In an effort to better protect the public, across the festive period.

Watch Nick Smith's report in full: