While the current threat level of terrorism to the UK is considered ‘severe’, however scary, the threat of terror shouldn’t dissuade those who live and work in London from going about their daily activities, nor should it put off visitors from daytripping to the capital.
However, the Metropolitan Police note on their website that “crowded places, economic, government, travel, military, aviation, and iconic sites are all seen as potential targets for terrorists”, and in London especially, these are difficult to avoid.
As such, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and be aware of steps that can be taken as an individual to make sure travelling to, from and in London, goes as smoothly as possible.
Here are some top tips for staying safe:
Staying safe on public transport
Day-to-day it’s always a good idea to be vigilant when travelling on public transport.
• Check where the nearest exits and fire escapes are, as well as emergency alarms
• Always know where you’re going and where you’re getting off, and have a route – and a back-up route – planned in advance
• Make sure you know when the last train/bus is so you don’t get caught short
• Keep valuables out of sight and zipped away
• Sit downstairs on a bus, and near the driver, so you can get off quickly if there’s a problem
• Don’t sit alone in an empty tube carriage – pick one with people in it already
• Move away from people acting aggressively
What to do if you work in London
The Met Police share this advice on their website: "We need the help and support of individuals, businesses and communities across London to remain alert and maintain the safety and security of those places in which we live, work and socialise.
"Crowded places, events, public transport, and iconic locations are some examples of locations that could be potential targets for terrorists. All of these are to be found in London.
"You are familiar with your workplace and surrounding area, so you’re ideally placed to spot when something is amiss. In this period of heightened alert, it is vital to remain vigilant, trust your instincts and report possible terrorist activity to the police.
"Look for anything that seems out of the ordinary, such as:
- People in stationary vehicles watching a building or structure
- Vehicles moving slowly near public buildings, structures or bridges, or parked in suspicious circumstances
- People using recording equipment, including camera phones, or seen making notes or sketches of security details
- Someone suspicious paying close attention to specific entry and exit points, stairwells, hallways or fire escapes
- People loitering at or near premises for long periods and watching staff, visitors and deliveries for no apparent reason
- People asking detailed or unusual questions about buildings and business operations, facilities (such as room layouts), security or parking for no apparent reason
- Challenge those in offices and ‘off limits’ areas, plant rooms and similar – report matters immediately to your security manager or dial 999
If you’ve witnessed any of the above, trust your instincts and report it using our online tool or call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. Our specially trained officers will take it from there.
What to do if you're visiting and suspicious
If something suspicious has caught your attention, or you’ve overheard something that sounds linked to terrorist activity, report it. If urgent, call 999; alternatively, call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.
In the event of an attack in London
In November 2015, following the terror attacks in France, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (Nactso) shared the following advice on how to behave if you are caught up in a shooting or bomb attack:
• Escape if you can
• Consider the safest options
• Is there a safe route? Run, if not, hide
• Can you get there without exposing yourself to greater danger?
• Insist others leave with you
• Leave belongings behind
• If you can’t run, hide
• Find cover from gunfire
• If you can see the attacker, they may be able to see you
• Cover from view does not mean you are safe, bullets go through glass, brick, wood and metal
• Find cover from gunfire e.g. substantial brickwork/heavy reinforced walls
• Be aware of your exits
• Try not to get trapped
• Be quiet, silence your phone
• Lock/barricade yourself in
• Move away from the door
Call 999: What do the police need to know?
• Location: Where are the suspects?
• Direction: Where did you last see the suspects?
• Descriptions: Describe the attacker, numbers, features, clothing, weapons etc
• Further information: Casualties, type of injury, building information, entrances, exits, hostages etc
• Stop other people entering the building if it is safe to do so