Shoppers in London city center on Boxing Day 2015. Photo by Hannah McKay/EPA
UK police plan to train a million people who work in crowded places on what to do in the event of a major terrorist attack, over the next 12 months.The plan, which will be announced by the National Association of Police Chiefs at the annual Security and Counter Terrorism Expo in London on Wednesday, comes as NATO and European Union (EU) chiefs warn there is a "justified concern" that the Islamic State (IS) group is planning biological and/or nuclear attacks on Europe.
The UK police plan is an extension of Project Griffin, an existing initiative which annually trains 100,000 people working in sectors such as retail, hospitality, entertainment, and travel on how to spot suspicious activity and what to do if they find themselves caught up in an attack.The new program, spurred by the mass terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, aims to reach 10 times that amount of people, teaching them to be "eyes and ears" that can assist the police.Organizations wanting to take part must be public limited companies and priority will be given to those operating in crowded public places such as city centers and sports and entertainment complexes.
"Police can help explain what the threats and risks to different sectors are but companies are better placed to explain to staff exactly what action they can take to enhance their security and how to respond if the worst happens," said Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Wilson, the national counter-terrorism co-ordinator. "Individual organizations have vital protective security information such as building layouts, security equipment, and safety procedures. They have the local knowledge that could be vital to keeping staff and the public safe."Speaking at the Security and Counter Terrorism Expo on Tuesday, deputy head of counter terrorism for the European Commission, Jorge Berto Silva said IS had shown interest in obtaining substances that could be used to make chemical, biological, and radiological weapons (CBRN). "With CBRN, there is a justified concern," he said.
Dr. Jamie Shea, deputy assistant secretary general for emerging security threats at NATO, echoed Silva's comments, adding that IS may be dividing into two factions — one looking after the so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria and the other focused on setting up terror cells in Europe to launch attacks.The threat is likely to "get worse before it gets better," he warned.The advice by police on what to do in the event of a firearms or weapons attack is first of all to run, if it will not put you in greater danger, or hide, if possible avoiding dead ends and bottlenecks and staying away from the door, and keeping as quiet as possible.