Free counter-terrorism training offered online by police to all Britons in run-up to Christmas

Charles Hymas
London Bridge attack - @HLOBlog

Free counter-terrorism training is being offered to every member of the public in the run-up to Christmas, police chiefs have announced following the London Bridge attack.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has opened up the online course so the public can learn how to spot suspicious behaviour or items and understand what to do in the event of a bomb threat or major incident.

The 45-minute training package was developed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in 2017 for staff working in crowded locations such as shopping centres and entertainment venues.

The NPCC said the decision to open up the training to the public was not made in direct response to the London Bridge attack in which two young Cambridge University graduates were murdered by terrorist Usman Khan ten days ago.

However, a spokesman said: “The tragic events which took place just 10 days ago, when two people lost their lives to terrorism, were a stark reminder of the ongoing threat and the need for vigilance.”

Those who take the course are being dubbed by police Counter Terrorism (CT) citizens. 

“The threat level remains at Substantial – meaning an attack is likely - so giving everyone the chance to be extra eyes and ears for police and local security teams helps to keep all communities safe.” said Lucy D’Orsi, Deputy Assistant Commissioner and senior national coordinator for protective security.

“The festive period is obviously a very busy one – so this is a good time to join up and become a CT Citizen.”

The e-training comprises seven modules including identifying security vulnerabilities, identifying and responding to suspicious behaviour, identifying and dealing with a suspicious item, what to do in the event of a bomb threat, how to respond to a firearms or weapons attack.

Examples of suspicious activity include taking notes or photos of security arrangements or inspecting CCTV cameras in an unusual way.

Others cited are receiving deliveries for unusual items bought online, holding passports or other documents in different names for no obvious reasons or long periods travelling abroad but being vague about where they have gone.

It also includes overt potential terrorist plotting such as buying or storing large amounts of chemicals and hiring large vehicles or similar for no obvious reasons. 

The programme entitled ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) Awareness was originally devised in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer, and participants needed to be signed up by their employers.

So far around 350,000 people have taken part in the eLearning, from nearly 6,000 registered companies. Collectively they have completed 1.7 million modules. A survey of 20,000 users found nine out of ten said they would recommend it.

“ACT Awareness eLearning is especially useful for anyone working in or regularly visiting crowded places,” said Ms D’Orsi.

People who see or hear something unusual or suspicious are urged to trust their instincts and act by reporting it in confidence at gov.uk/ACT or, in an emergency, dial 999.

Note to sub: if you need length you can blob this: Terrorists freed from jail will be banned from travelling to cities or towns which they plotted to attack under a crackdown by Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary.

He has ordered Ministry of Justice (MoJ) officials to ensure the bans cover any terrorists who have already been released on licence and those about to be freed from jail.

The move is part of a major review of all 69 freed terrorists currently on licence, two of whom have already been returned to prison for breaches of their conditions.

It follows the terrorist attack at London Bridge by Usman Khan, 28, who was jailed in 2012 for an Al Qaeda-inspired plot to bomb the London stock exchange.

Khan, who was automatically released on licence halfway through his 16 year sentence in December last year, travelled from Stafford to London Bridge’s Fishmonger’s Hall where he stabbed to death Cambridge University graduates Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25.

“The licensing conditions of everybody in and out of jail are being examined to make sure that they contain a ban on them going to any areas where they may have ever plotted to attack,” said a source. “They will be in effect geographical exclusion zones as part of their licence conditions.”