Sussex residents asked to remain alert to 'substantial' terrorist threat
The easing of lockdown restrictions could provide a greater opportunity for terrorists to operate, police have warned.
Police in Surrey and Sussex are reminding businesses and the public that they must be alert to 'more than just the threat of Covid-19' this summer.
Officers are appealing for people to support the police’s 24/7 efforts to keep everyone safe by remaining vigilant, and reporting 'anything that doesn’t seem right' to security staff or the police.
Police said the threat to the UK from terrorism remains at substantial, 'meaning an attack is likely'.
As public places such as non-essential shops, hospitality and sports events begin to open up, the security experts at Counter Terrorism Policing have launched a new vigilance campaign to encourage everyone to help the police tackle terrorism and save lives by reporting any concerns.
Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman, head of operations command for Surrey and Sussex Police said: “There is no current specific threat to Surrey or Sussex but following a year of restrictions impacting all our lives, we recognise people will be keen to get out and about as the lockdown begins to ease, and the importance of businesses being able to return to more regular trading patterns.
“But we must continue to follow public health guidance and remain vigilant, not just against the threat of the virus but against the threat of terrorism as well.
“Terrorism will understandably not have been high on anyone’s mind in recent months, and we would describe the threat as temporarily suppressed during lockdown, because it was difficult to go out in public and actually do anything.
“But that means that as the crowded places which have traditionally been the target for terrorists start to fill with people again, there is always the potential for that risk to come back."
Chief Superintendent Westerman said the best defence against the terrorist threat is a 'collective community effort', where police, security staff, businesses and the public come together to 'minimise the chance of attack'.
Police said much activity is focused on encouraging businesses to play their part in the collective effort by reviewing and updating their security plans, and properly risk-assess existing sites or any new areas such as outdoor spaces opened to meet Covid safety rules.
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: "The public can also play their part in protecting everyone from terrorism by completing the official Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) online e-learning for free.
"Taking just 45 minutes to complete, the online training provides the latest advice from CT experts, informing how to react in the unlikely event of a terror attack and how to spot and report suspicious activity and behaviour."
Thousands of people across the UK have already participated online.
“This training could save your life, or the lives of others,” said Chief Superintendent Westerman.
“Regrettably, we know all too well that a terror attack can happen anywhere and at any time so we work with other national security partners to disrupt those intent on causing harm to our communities, but we need your help to do that effectively.
“Taking part in the free training and remaining vigilant when you’re out and about this summer helps keep us all safe, and creates a hostile place for terrorists to operate.”
If you're suspicious of something that could identify a terrorist threat anywhere in the UK, report it using the quick and confidential online tool to report possible terrorist activity, or call the Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321.
If you suspect an immediate danger, whether it’s suspicious behaviour, a package or a vehicle, move away and call 999 straight away.