Potential acts of terrorism have recently been prevented right here in the UK by people reporting something suspicious that they noticed on a train, on the street, or in their neighbourhood.
We can all play our part in preventing terrorism, and reporting suspicious items and activities is a big part of that.
The US Department of Homeland Security has published some interesting guidelines on what makes something suspicious, and what to do about it.
Very important: Remember that race, gender or religious affiliations are not indicators of suspicious behaviour.
These are some of the main items/activities you should look out for:
- Unattended bags, boxes and suitcases in public areas – especially on a train or bus, or in a station or airport.
- Placing a package or luggage in a different compartment than the one the person is travelling in (Sometimes this is necessary because of space though – use your best judgement.)
- People who stay at bus or train stations for long periods without getting on.
- Anyone tampering with surveillance cameras, safety systems, machinery or other sensitive equipment.
- People videotaping, sketching or taking notes on transit equipment and facilities or security equipment.
- People entering unauthorised areas at train or bus stations.
- People carrying aerosol containers or anything omitting a strange smell or gas.
- Evasive answers to common questions regarding destinations; deliberate attempts to avoid contact with others or to draw attention.
- Loose fitting clothing, large sweatshirt, vest or jacket in hot weather conditions. Clothing that is disproportionate to the body type of the person.
- Attempts to abandon a vehicle in or near a transit parking facility, or cars in the parking lot without proper tags and license plates.
- An individual who is fixated only on a particular object or location.
- Suspicious activity or loitering around transportation facilities.
- Consecutive round trips on the same transit route.
If you see a suspicious item or activity, report it immediately to police or authorities. Never pick up the item or approach the person, and don’t show the person in question that you’re suspicious of them.
Don’t use your mobile phone or radio right next to a suspicious item – move away first and call authorities from a safe distance.
Take note of as many details as possible to help police, such as the platform a package was left on, which direction a suspicious person was moving in, and any other details that could help with finding suspects or items.
This isn’t something any of us want to think about, but it really can make all the difference and save lives.
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