UK Children and Teenagers to Receive Safety Education in Relation to Terrorist Incidents

Today, the 28th September 2017, the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) launched their first campaign and programme aimed at children and teenagers with a video ‘Run, Hide, Tell’. Part of the UK’s National Police Chiefs Council, NaCTSO works alongside the Home office with responsibility to provide help, advice and guidance to government and industry from terrorist threats that covers threats to:

  1. crowded places;
  2. hazardous sites and dangerous substances;
  3. the critical infrastructure;
  4. personal safety.

The video is linked to personal safety and is designed to teach 11-16 year olds how to react should they be caught in a gun or knife attack. The video reinforces the successful ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ message that has been promoted over the last few years.

Emanating in 2004 in Operation Griffin that included the ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ initiave was introduced by the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police to help London’s financial sector better protect itself against terrorist threats. Since then the Griffin programme has spread across the UK and in other states including Australia, Canada, Singapore, South Africa and the US.

In the UK Griffin has been complemented by Project Argus, where Argus explores ways in which business can prevent, handle and recover from a terrorist attack by teaching  through simulated attacks how businesses can explore options available to them and identify their main priorities should such an attack occur.

Contemporary society use their mobile phones for more than just making calls as they are also used to access the websites, emails, photographing and filming events. Rather than flee the site at Parsons Green London Underground station when a bomb was detonated on a train on the 15th September 2017, many filmed the incident on their mobile phones. Not wanting to sound too generational, but it is mainly younger people who constantly use their phone to record events. This is why NaCTSO have released this video to reinforce the importance of running away as far as one can from the scene of a terrorist incident and not to film it until they are safely away from the danger.

This video is the first part of a three phase communications and education plan where a second video will be launched in October 2017 to explain in more detail the ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ message and teach children how to spot and report suspicious behaviour or suspicious items. It is intended that the programme will make up part of the Personal Social Health Economic curriculum of formal education at schools and colleges.

This is not about encouraging children and teenagers to spy on their fellow citizens, the aim of the ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ is to raise awareness of both personal safety and to be more vigilant. It is important that we all play our part in keeping everyone safe and not to leave it solely to the police and the security services. It is important that children and young people receive and understand the message of ‘Run, Hide, Tell’. In launching this programme the Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Lucy D’Orsi said that talking to young people about terrorism can be scary and, citing the 2017 terrorist attacks in Manchester and London resulted in some of the youngest victims the UK has seen, added, ‘…if we are able to potentially teach children to act in a way which could potentially save their lives, it is our responsibility to do so.’

Saving lives in terrorist incidents is of paramount importance and citizenAID, which is part of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, has developed ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ to ‘Run, Hide, Tell, Treat’. Developed by Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham with the British Army’ Medical Corps, inspired by the first aid actions taken by soldiers to deal with gunshot and bomb blast victims, citizenAID has developed an App to help those caught up in a terrorist incident to apply life saving first aid. More details on citizenAID and ‘Run, Hide, Tell, Treat’ can be found in my article in The Conversation If children and young people are to have NaCTSO’s programme added to formal education it could be worth adding how they can help save lives with basic first aid as if an attack takes place in the likes of a shopping mall it could be up to 90 minutes to two hours before it is safe for paramedics to attend. In cases like this that delay could cost lives that can be saved by simple, basic first aid to deal with gunshots, knife or blast victims who may be bleeding to death.

I am currently involved in formulating a pilot project focusing on the UK’s Protect and Prepare strand of the government’s counter-terrorism policy CONTEST and initiatives like this should be encouraged.