In these modern times we live in, the threat of being involved in a terrorist incident is real, but the chances are relatively slim. However, would you know what to do in the event that you hear or see something that results in a terrorist attack? How would you react, and what steps should you ensure you take to save lives?
It’s a vast subject, which you may think is more relevant depending on the community you live in or the location you are based in. But don’t make this simple mistake – threats of terror could come from anywhere – a trained terrorist will hide within communities that are not the stereotypical environment you might expect.
So, what should you do if you suspect someone is plotting terrorist activity, or if you find a suspicious package? Is there a case for ignoring something that seems trivial? And will your call be anonymous? These are all relevant questions that we intend to answer right now.
Reporting Terrorist Activity
First and foremost, it is important to report anything you feel is suspicious, no matter how trivial, or whether you are unsure. You can do this via a number of different mediums. The Anti-Terrorism Hotline is available on 0800 789 321 (CLICK TO CALL), and you can also contact your local police force – the Met Police have an anonymous online tool here. However, don’t forget that these numbers and contact details are only for use when there is not an immediate threat.
In an emergency situation – i.e. when a terrorist attack is underway – you should always call 999 (CLICK TO CALL).
Reporting Terrorist and Extremist Content
We are all more aware than ever of the enormous amount of extremist content that exists online these days, and all of it could be valuable to the authorities. Don’t just leave a page – always report it. Content like this is used for a variety of reasons, sometimes for pure propaganda, but it is also a useful recruiting tool for terrorist organisations.
The easiest way to do this is to go to the government’s unique online tool which you can find here. Anything illegal or harmful that could be used to promote a terrorist cause, whether picture, video or audio, should be reported. It’s an anonymous tool, and your message will be read by a specialist information officer. Once the content has been assessed, it will be passed on to an investigator who will work with web industry partners to have it removed.
Again, if there is an immediate threat – a terrorist expressing a date and time for an imminent attack, for example, make sure you bypass the online tool and call 999 (CLICK TO CALL).
Is it Anonymous?
Ultimately, it’s down to you whether or not anyone finds out you have contacted the authorities. On the one hand, all information will be treated in the strictest of confidence, and discretion is of vital importance – even if an authority wants to contact you back for more information. You will be asked to provide your name and details, because of the sheer numbers of calls taken – your details will help the authorities verify the authenticity of your tip, and also give you vital support if you are in any direct danger.
What if the Information is Wrong?
A lot of people are scared of providing information because they are unsure of whether they have read things correctly. However, it is vital that you report any incident of possible terrorist activity, even if you think you might be barking up the wrong tree. It’s not your job to perform a full investigation – just to report your side of things. Leave it to the specially trained officers who will be well versed in how to deal with mistakes – as well as genuine terrorist threats.
Don’t forget, it’s good news if you are wrong – and good news if the information you provide ends in the police foiling an attack and getting the culprits behind bars.
Sad as it might be to say, but the threat of terrorism is genuine at the moment. And whether you are a private individual, a business owner, or a public servant, we all need to be aware of the current threat levels and have an understanding of how to report and react to specific incidents. We hope this article has helped you form that understanding – stay safe out there!