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New vigilance campaign launched in the build up to Christmas

A new national campaign has launched this week (19 November), backed by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and West Midlands Police, urging the public to remain alert and help keep events and crowded places safe by being vigilant and reporting anything suspicious. 

The campaign is the latest version of the ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) campaign and launched five days ahead of ‘Black Friday’ - the busiest shopping day before Christmas.  

Head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, Chief Superintendent Matt Ward said: “Throughout the year, both WMCTU and WMP work with event organisers, partners and commercial organisations across the region to give advice and guidance on safety and security measures.

“While there’s no specific threat to an event or venue, the threat level for the UK remains at Severe. Last year’s events showed us that attacks can happen at any time or place without warning

“Our priority is the safety and security of all those attending events and crowded places and the public are encouraged to continue with their plans to enjoy events.

“The public can help us keep the events and areas safe by being vigilant for anyone or anything that looks out of place or suspicious and reporting it to a member of staff, security or police.

“As with any busy area, police are encouraging everyone to remain alert while out and about, and to report anything suspicious to police, security or staff.” 

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WMCTU is also asking business and industry to put security at the top of their ‘must have’ lists this Christmas by encouraging them to play their part in countering the terrorist threat by following the steps below. 

- Signing up to the ACT Awareness e-Learning course designed to help industry better understand, and mitigate against current terrorist methodology. Developed in partnership between Counter Terrorism Policing and Marks & Spencer, it covers how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and what to do if an attack should take place. Free to use, the course can be divided into short sections to suit business needs. However it takes just 45 minutes in total to complete - 45 minutes that could save lives.

- Secondly, to think about contingency plans this Christmas, and asking businesses to draw up a ‘Sixty Second Security’ plan which has the power to improve their reaction to emergency situations.

Designed to be a quick checklist which can improve staff reactions in the event of an emergency, it requires businesses to ensure all their staff know the answers to simple questions such as:

•    Who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, and do they know what they’re doing?
•    How do you enter and exit the building in emergency?
•    How do you lock down quickly?
•    Where can you hide?
•    How do you communicate and how do you stay updated if you find yourself in an attack scenario?
•    Have you briefed your staff?

Specialist advice for companies operating in crowded places, such as major events, sport stadia, visitor attractions, bars, theatres and shopping centres, is available on the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) website along with CT Policing’s new ACT Awareness e-Learning tool.