Police urge east Londoners to learn about what to do in terror attack

Sergeant Mark Coates. Picture: Met Police

Sergeant Mark Coates. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

Police are encouraging people across east London to learn about what to do in the event of a terror attack and how to report suspicious behaviour.

Sergeant Mark Coates gave this paper a run-through of a counter-terrorism online course designed to help people better understand and mitigate against terrorist methods.

The Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) awareness e-learning package features the latest expert advice and includes modules to teach and test people about responding to possible bomb threats, weapons attacks and how to identify and respond to suspicious behaviour or items.

Sgt Coates is part of Project Servator, which aims to deter, detect and disrupt criminal activity, including terrorism.

He said: “The way I describe it is that gut feeling. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, it’s worth considering reporting it.”

The officer added that people should report any suspicious behaviour to a member of security or police at venues, saying this puts the suspect “on the back foot”.

“It could be as simple as a bag being left at a station, someone might put an empty bag there one week just to see if a member of the public or security team sees it, do they phone police, how do they deal with it?

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“They could be sitting there, watching the action and if they feel that’s not been dealt with correctly, the following week they could come back with an improvised explosive device and plant it there because they have got the confidence of not being watched, they haven’t been challenged.

“If they go somewhere and someone says ‘is that your bag?’ as they walk away, they are going to think I am not going back there again as I am being watched by members of the public, security and police.”

His advice for people if they were caught in an actual terror attack was to get to a place of safety away from the threat and report it to emergency services as soon as possible.

But Sgt Coates stressed that he didn’t want to worry people about the likelihood of an attack.

“We don’t want people to think there is an imminent threat but I think people accept now that everyone needs to be vigilant.”

The officer felt it is important businesses and people know exactly what to do if they are caught up in an attack, adding that “it becomes second nature that people don’t freeze.”

To complete the e-training, go to ct.highfieldelearning.com.