Questions raised about National Gallery security following Just Stop Oil protests

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Insiders fear that “the quality, motivation and intelligence of custodial staff have deteriorated under outsourcing.”

Julian Spalding, a former director of museums and galleries in Glasgow, Manchester and Sheffield, told the Telegraph: “It’s almost unbelievable that this could have happened. It is impossible for there to be only one attendant between two rooms. It’s just ridiculous. They must have attendants in each room.

He called the outsourcing of security “totally wrong” because the mandate of museum guards goes beyond security to communicate with the public.

“They can’t just be security guards from an outside company,” he told the Telegraph. “It’s not the same as having a security guard at the entrance to a supermarket. They are treasures of the world. I am disgusted that the National Gallery is so irresponsible – to the paintings and to the public. It’s just cheapskate. It’s disastrous.

“Other incidents could be probable”

Will Geddes, a leading security expert, was amazed that the guards took so long to respond.

He said: ‘What are their actual instructions to do not just stand there in a uniform with a badge that says ‘security’? There was no clear direction or response plan, other than trying to get people out of the room. Appalling.”

He warned that further incidents are likely.

Just Stop Oil protesters also targeted the Royal Academy in London last week, sticking their hands to the frame of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and spraying “No New Oil” on the wall below.

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