Blanket Security Checks at Prague Castle To End, Says Pavel

Security checks for all visitors entering the outdoor premises of Prague Castle were introduced in the summer of 2016. Photo credit: Zenon Moreau.

Prague, April 17 (CTK) – Blanket security checks for all people entering Prague Castle will end, President Petr Pavel told reporters yesterday, as most door frame metal detectors at the checkpoints began being removed yesterday afternoon.

Pavel has repeatedly criticised the current situation, in which visitors to the Castle have to undergo security checks. Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (STAN) believes that a compromise in the form of random checks is the ideal solution.

Police President Martin Vondrasek said one frame would be left at each entrance for practical reasons.

Security checks for all visitors entering the outdoor premises of Prague Castle were introduced in the summer of 2016 under previous president Milos Zeman. They provoked strong criticism, as they made access to the castle more complicated for Prague residents and tourists. The Presidential Office argued they were needed to ensure the security of visitors.

Rakusan recently said the security frames could potentially be maintained at selected places inside the complex, and the entire Castle area could be monitored. The lifting of security checks at Prague Castle started being debated more than a year ago, but the situation changed when Russia attacked Ukraine.

Pavel’s team has also revised the project for a comprehensive security system at the castle, including a new security concept of entrances. In the next couple of months, the Prague Castle may launch a tender for a contractor.

Vondrasek said a plan had been prepared last spring to switch to random checks, before the Russian military invasion of Ukraine started. “No one in the security community knew what this would bring,” he added.

During the next regular security risk assessment last autumn, it was not possible to cancel the checks because of illegal migration, the Czech EU presidency in the second half of 2022, the upcoming Advent period and the January presidential elections, Vondracek explained.

Now these security risks have receded, the police have decided to carry out complete checks of all cars entering the Castle area, random checks of visitors and a more effective use of the CCTV closed-circuit television system. There will then be preventive patrols in all Castle courtyards, Vondrasek noted.

Rakusan pledged to cooperate on the project, which should lead to the removal of the barriers to vehicles in their present form.

Police officers will have information from security cameras for random checks at the Castle and it will be up to them whether to carry out checks, Vondrasek said.

“One frame will be left at each entrance for practical reasons, as this is considerably less demanding than other police detection devices,” he noted. He said the police wanted to keep the equipment at all entrances because a change in the security situation cannot be ruled out.

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