Workers receive advice during awareness week
Shopping centre workers were talked through a bomb scare scenario in East Kilbride to help combat the increased threat of terrorism.
As part of Counter Terrorism Awareness Week, community representatives – including the News, NHS Lanarkshire staff, retail and council workers – were invited to take part in ‘Project Griffin’ at the Odeon Cinema on Monday.
The week of action promoting counterterrorism activity across the country aims to school people on how to act in the event of an attack.
And following the recent tragic events in Manchester and London, Chief Superintendent Roddy Irvine, divisional commander for Lanarkshire, said this year’s event had a “sharper focus”.
Revealing how the threat level is calculated, he told a packed theatre that in 2015 there were 11,774 acts of terrorism in 92 countries, and stressed that the only way to combat this crime was to work together.
Assuring audience members that there was no specific threat to Scotland, Chief Supt Irvine said: “Unfortunately with the tragic events that have happened recently, an event like this is even more important.
“However, it is important to stress that the terrorist threat level for the UK has been at severe for quite some time now – meaning that an attack is highly likely.”
But Police Scotland’s key message to the public was to ‘be alert, not alarmed’ as they encouraged people to be vigilant and report suspicious behaviour.
Afterwards, East Kilbride Chief Inspector Geraldine McSherry said there were a number of important messages to take from the event on how to counteract terrorism and deal with it at a local level.
She said: “What we need is for people to be aware that if they come across a suspicious package or suspicious behaviour, what they do at that initial time is really important going forward to identify these people who are causing harm within our communities.
“If there are any businesses out there who are needing that input, they can get in touch and we’ll come out and give them further information.
“We do a lot of work with the shopping centre through community officers who work within the centre full-time so there are really good links into the centre.”
She added: “It’s important that our local communities interact as well. This event was aimed at the retail side and businesses and offices that have crowded places.
“What’s important is that the retailers are on board, but it’s equally important that if people see anything suspicious in their community – maybe people have moved in next to them or activity during the night that they feel is not right – then please phone us.
“Unfortunately, these terrorists are living within our communities. When we look at Manchester and London, it was obvious that the people involved in that were living within local communitites. So it’s very important that people stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity via 999, 101 or Crimestoppers.
“The last thing we want is mass panic or people to feel frightened in our local community.
“People in the UK are resilient. We’ve seen that in London and Manchester that people are standing strong.
“If we refuse to go out and go to crowded places and come to the pictures with our children then they are winning, these terrorists are getting what they want.”
Staying alertEast Kilbride Chief Inspector Geraldine McSherry, foreground, at the seminar during Counter Terrorism Awareness Week