I want to begin by expressing my horror at the despicable and cowardly terror attack that took place in the centre of London last night.
My heartfelt sympathies – and those of everyone in Scotland – are with the families of those who have lost loved ones.
Our thoughts are also with those who sustained injuries. We wish all of them a full and speedy recovery.
I want to also express my admiration of, and gratitude to, the emergency services.
Last night, we saw yet again the bravery, dedication, selflessness and professionalism of the police and of those who work in the NHS and fire service.
I was briefed directly this morning by the deputy National Security Adviser and updated both on what is currently known about the attackers and also on the reasons for the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) decision to keep the security threat level, at this stage, at severe.
I have also, in the last hour, chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Committee and received a full briefing from Police Scotland.
At this point in time, we have no information to suggest that any of the victims of this attack are from Scotland – however, it is not yet possible to be definitive about that and we are liaising closely with relevant authorities in London as more information becomes available.
Our police and health services have also offered any practical assistance to London that may be required.
To assist with the ongoing investigation, Police Scotland will be active at relevant transport hubs – where appropriate in partnership with the British Transport Police (BTP) – to ensure that any potential witnesses to last night's attack who may be returning to Scotland are identified.
In terms of the Police Scotland response here, it is important to stress that there is no intelligence of any specific threat to Scotland.
However, the police will ensure appropriate protective security measures are implemented.
As was the case after the Manchester attack, the public can expect to see a more visible police presence, particularly in busy areas.
That will include armed police – the number of Armed Response Vehicles on duty today has been substantially increased.
At what I know is an anxious time, my message to the public is to be vigilant, report anything of suspicion to the police – but otherwise continue to live your lives as normal.
Last night's attack was another reminder of the need to challenge extremism robustly and directly.
We must unite as a society to do so.
And as we do, it is my view that two important principles must be adhered to.
Firstly, we must not allow the terrorists to divide us. And we must not allow any community to be scapegoated for the actions of a violent and mindless minority.
Those who carry out these attacks in the name of Islam do not speak for that faith. Indeed, their actions are a perversion of Islam.
It is important to remember that terrorists kill indiscriminately. They do not distinguish their victims on the basis of faith or race.
A Muslim in this country is far more likely to be the victim of a terrorist attack than a perpetrator of one.
We must never forget that – and we must not allow ourselves to be divided.
Secondly, we must take all possible steps to protect the public. In particular, we must ensure that our police and security services have the resources they need to keep us safe.
However, we must not allow the freedoms and civil liberties that are an essential part of who we are to be taken away or undermined.
These issues will undoubtedly be the subject of rigorous debate in the weeks and months to come.
Finally, let us remember this. London is a wonderful, vibrant, cosmopolitan city – it is one of the best cities in the world.
I have no doubt that – just as we saw after previous attacks, most recently the attack in Westminster – the people of London will pull together, in all of their diversity, and refuse to be cowed by acts of terrorism.
As they do so, we stand with them in solidarity and defiance.
Email: email@example.com – Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
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