What To Do In An Emergency Part 1: Suspicious Items

We’re all aware that our World is changing and, while the risk of terrorism is still relatively low, it does exist and we need to upgrade our level of awareness and be prepared, just in case.
What happens in an emergency situation though? We’re speaking to experts in safety and security to bring you a 5-part series on What To Do (and what not to do) to improve your peace of mind and reduce your risk.
The first step, where possible, is prevention…

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Does this look suspicious?

We Brits generally don’t like to make a scene, but if you see something suspicious or potentially dangerous, it’s important to speak up. Reporting a suspicious item or action could prevent terrorism and save lives.

That doesn’t mean you should walk around in hyper-neurotic mode, scrutinising everyone and everything that crosses your path though. Simply keep your eyes open and don’t ignore something that seems shady or out of place.

The Metropolitan Police website reinforces the important role that each of us can play: “We need members of the public to trust their instincts and pass on information which could help stop terrorists in their tracks. Trust your instincts and call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 FREE.”

 

What counts as “suspicious”?

We all know by now that an unattended parcel is an issue, but what else should we be looking for?

Metropolitan Police explain that an act of terrorism requires a great deal of planning, preparation, surveillance, communication,  materials, and funding, and that all of these can potentially raise red flags. You can read the full list here, but we believe the following would be most likely in an airport or station, or while on holiday:

  • A property with unusual comings and goings that don’t fit day-to-day life locally
  • Surveillance of security measures – watching and/or taking photos or videos of CCTV cameras, security gates, security guards on duty, etc.
  • Vehicles abandoned in unusual places
  • And, of course, an unclaimed or unattended suitcase, bag or parcel

The British Transport Police also advise being “alert not alarmed” and reporting suspicious behaviour such as:

  • Someone paying close attention to entry and exit points; stairwells, hallways, fire escapes for no apparent reason
  • People asking detailed or unusual questions about infrastructure and how the railway operates, including security arrangements, for no apparent reason
  • People using recording equipment, including camera phones, or seen making notes or sketches of security details for no apparent reason
  • People not displaying the appropriate security passes in access controlled areas

 

What to do

Always report suspicious items as soon as possible, and provide as much detail as you can. Important details include where you are, what you have seen, when you saw it, descriptions of people, vehicles or items involved, and any other details you can remember.

It’s important to keep moving – don’t stop to take a photo and definitely don’t hang about if there’s a suspicious parcel or person nearby.

 

What not to do

  • DON’T try to handle the situation or confront anyone yourself. Report it and specially trained officers will handle the situation from there.
  • Don’t assume that someone else will see or report something – rather repeat it than have it go unreported.
  • Don’t make assumptions based on someone’s culture, nationality, or other personal attributes.
  • In airports and stations, don’t agree to “look after” a parcel or suitcase for someone you don’t know, no matter how normal and friendly they seem.
  • Don’t worry about being wrong. Maybe it’s nothing, but maybe it’s not…

If you honestly believe that something is strange or doesn’t feel right, tell the authorities and let them decide what to do about it.

BUT

Prank reports are taken very seriously and can get you into a lot of trouble, so ONLY report a suspicious object or action if you genuinely suspect something is wrong.

 

Who to tell

If you’re travelling in a foreign country, report any suspicious items or actions to local emergency lines. It’s always a good idea to carry these details (police, ambulance, fire, etc.) throughout your trip, in case of lost or stolen items, illness, or other mishaps.

If you’re at an airport, station, hotel, or other public space, report to the first security, police, or information personnel that you can find.

To report an immediate threat in the UK, call 999, your local police station, or the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

 

We hope that you’ve found this information useful, and that it will provide extra peace of mind at home and abroad. Next, we’ll provide some advice from security experts on what to do if you find yourself in an emergency situation while travelling.

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