Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland, City of London Police security update: summer 2021
As life thankfully starts to return to some degree of normality with the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, it’s important to remember the opportunities that an increased presence back in the workplace and increased footfall in Publicly Accessible Locations (PALs) provides to criminals and terrorists.
After a year of living under restrictions that impacted all our lives, it’s understandable that people are keen to get out and about, see family and friends, and do all of the things that they were able to freely enjoy before the pandemic began. It’s also vital that businesses and venues are able to return to regular trading patterns.
Let’s enjoy these freedoms, but in a way that helps keep us safe, not just from COVID-19 but from terrorism and other crime as well.
The threat to the UK from terrorism remains at ‘substantial’, which means an attack is likely.
Understandably, the terrorist threat won’t necessarily have been at the forefront of everyone’s minds recently. It would be fair to say that the threat was temporarily reduced to some extent during lockdown, because public spaces were less crowded.
But we need to be aware that terrorists may take advantage of the easing of restrictions.
We believe that the best defence against this threat is a collective community effort – where police, security staff, businesses and the public come together to minimise the chance of attack.
From an individual perspective, there are steps you can take to support this 24/7 effort to tackle terrorism and save lives.
- Complete the free ACT Awareness e-learning. It takes 45 minutes, but you also have the option to complete modules separately at a time to suit you. The training is designed to teach you about the threat we face from terrorism, what to do in the event of an attack and how you can help by reporting suspicious activity. Hundreds of thousands of people across the UK have already participated. Visit https://ct.highfieldelearning.com to register.
- When you’re out and about, be aware of your surroundings and remain vigilant.
- If you don’t feel right about something you see or hear, trust your instincts and ACT.
Remember, communities defeat terrorism.
- Report what you have seen or heard to security staff or a police officer.
- You can also report online anonymously and quickly via www.gov.uk/ACT or you can call the police in confidence on 0800 789 321. In an emergency, you should always call 999.
- In the unlikely event that you are caught up in an attack, the best way you can keep yourself and others safe is to Run, Hide, Tell:
- Run from the danger;
- Hide if you cannot run;
- Tell the police what is happening, only when safe to do so, by calling 999.
I’d urge all of you to complete the ACT Awareness e-learning training if you haven’t already. It’s not intended to scare or alarm you, but to ensure you know what to do in the unlikely event of being involved in an emergency situation. We have seen time and again that people who know how to react in the event of an emergency are able to respond more quickly and decisively to keep themselves and others safe.
If you are in doubt about whether you should report something you’ve seen or heard, trust your instincts. No piece of information is considered too small or insignificant.
Specially trained officers and staff would rather take lots of calls that are made in good faith but have innocent explanations, than not get any at all.
You’re not wasting our time, and no call or click is ignored. What you tell us is treated in the strictest confidence and thoroughly researched by experienced officers before, and if, any police action is taken.
It’s not just terrorists who may seek to take advantage of our new-found freedoms. Other criminals will be looking for opportunities to commit crime as our towns and cities get busier
You can keep yourself and your property safe by following some simple steps:
- Keep your mobile phone and valuables out of sight.
- Try to avoid texting while you walk as this could make it easier for thieves on bikes or mopeds to snatch it out of your hand.
- Never leave a mobile, any other device, wallet or purse on the table of an outdoor café, pub or restaurant.
- Alcohol and drugs reduce reaction times and inhibitions, which makes it harder to assess risks and decide how to deal with them. So keep an eye on how much you drink and never let your glass or bottle out of your sight.
- If you’re using a cash machine, look out for devices attached to the machine – some aremore obvious than others. If it doesn’t look or feel right then steer clear and, if possible, go inside the bank where it will be safer.
- If you’re threatened with violence, don’t risk your personal safety. Property can be replaced, you can’t.
For more information on keeping yourself and your property safe, visit www.cityoflondon.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention
Keep safe. Stay well.
Assistant Commissioner, Alistair Sutherland, City of London Police