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Britain's counter-terrorism police officers launch 60-second security plan

Britain's counter-terrorism police officers launch 60-second security plan
The aim of the 60-second checklist for staff in shops would be to prevent widespread panic during reports of a marauding terror attack when rumours of terrorists on the loose spread like wildfire on social media platforms. (Image Credit: Reuters)

Britain's counter-terrorism police officers on Monday launched a new 60-second security plan as part of a "Protect and Prepare" campaign for retail stores on the country's high streets, which will be flooded with shoppers in the lead up to Christmas.

The aim of the 60-second checklist for staff in shops would be to prevent widespread panic during reports of a marauding terror attack when rumours of terrorists on the loose spread like wildfire on social media platforms.

It involves staff ensuring they have a clear understanding about who is in charge of emergency plans, know when it is appropriate to evacuate a store and when it is best to order a lockdown and tell shoppers to stay put. They will also be asked to familiarise themselves with all the best places to hide in the shop in the event of a marauding terrorist attack.

"As people are enjoying the festive season, they will see a visible security presence with police patrols and additional security in crowded places," said Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, the UK's National Coordinator for the Protect and Prepare campaign.

"Unpredictable deployments across the UK will also provide an additional layer of protection, with specially-trained uniformed and plainclothes officers working to deter, detect and disrupt hostile reconnaissance and encourage the public and businesses to be their extra eyes and ears and report anything that doesn't feel right," he said.

Aldworth made specific reference to an incident last year on London's famous shopping hub of Oxford Street when a fight at a Tube station caused panic when people believed that a terrorist attack had occurred.

In the rush to keep themselves safe, some people suffered serious injuries and businesses were severely disrupted. It later emerged to be a false alarm, which multiplied with social media posts.

He said: "By working alongside those businesses, we have learnt from that experience and I believe that our 60-second check will better prepare us to deal with something similar in the future.

"I want staff working in crowded places to know who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, how to enter and exit a building in an emergency, how to lock down or where to hide if needs are."

Britain's terror threat level remains at "severe", which means an attack is highly likely, after five terror attacks over last year. Scotland Yard and intelligence officials have previously confirmed that at least 17 plots were foiled since March 2017.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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