Staffordshire Police has announced its biggest ever counter terrorism campaign this Christmas as part of the national ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) programme.
The region’s police force joined forces across the country in announcing that experts from Counter Terrorism Policing will be asking retailers and other businesses who operate in crowded places to draw up a “60-second security plan” to react to potential emergencies, such as a terror attack.
There is no known increased threat to busy town and city centres.
However security plans across the country become more visible around Christmas following the Berlin Christmas market terror attack two years ago which saw 12 killed and nearly 60 injured.
Staffordshire Police said security messaging will appear on advertising boards and digital screens around crowded Christmas events and key shopping locations.
They aim to remind the public of the “crucial role they play in helping to tackle the terrorist threat”.
Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, national coordinator for Protect and Prepare, said: “As people are enjoying the festive season they will see a visible security presence with police patrols and additional security in crowded places.
“Unpredictable deployments across the UK will also provide an additional layer of protection, with specially-trained uniformed and plain clothes officers working to deter, detect and disrupt hostile reconnaissance and encourage the public and businesses to be their extra eyes and ears and report anything that doesn’t feel right.
“This includes asking retailers and other businesses to consider my ‘Sixty Second Security’ plan, which is a quick checklist of questions every member of staff should be able to answer in order to drastically improve reaction times in the event of an emergency.”
The region has many focal points to celebrate Christmas, including Hanley town centre and light switch-on events that often see thousands packed into a small area.
Police forces around the country, including Staffordshire, mobilise armed officers and plain clothed officers to add an extra level of reassurance to the public.
A guide ‘sixty second security’ checklist has been launched by the police for use by local shops and businesses:
– Who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, and do they know what they are 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 a Run, Hide, Tell (RHT) scenario?
– Have you briefed your staff?
The current threat level to the UK from international terrorism is currently at ‘Severe’, meaning that a terrorist ‘attack is highly likely’.
The country saw four terror attacks last year, targeting Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.
The public are advised to report any suspicious behaviour they see to police in confidence at gov.uk/ACT or 0800 789 321.