Friday, February 26News For London

Counter-terrorism training is now free and available across England, but it’s not a “solve-all” solution

Headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service in London | Photograph by Francis Peña

 

People in England is now able to train and become a Counter Terrorism Citizen, but not everyone believes this is a solution to terror threats and attacks.

A Counter Terrorism course called ACT Awareness offered by the Counter Terrorism Policing, that was only open to company staff working in crowded spaces, is now available to the public of England for the first time. 

The moves comes after a man stabbed two people to death and wounded three others last 29 November in what is now known as the London Bridge attack. However, the National Police Chief’s Council said that the decision to make available to the public ACT Awareness is not related to the incident. The course have seven e-learning modules: 

  1. Introduction to Terrorism.
  2. Identifying Security Vulnerabilities.
  3. How to Identify and Respond to Suspicious Behaviour.
  4. How to Identify and Deal with a Suspicious Item.
  5. What to do in the Event of a Bomb Threat.
  6. How to Respond to a Firearms or Weapons Attack.
  7. Summary and Supporting Materials. 

 

Originally, the online programme was done in partnership with the British multinational retailer Marks and Spencer and participants needed to be signed up by their employers. That changed and now, the course is free of charge to anyone who wants to participate and whoever finished the complete course will become a CT Citizen able “to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and understand what to do in the event of a major incident.

Still, there are people who are not pleased with the initiative. 

Michael Stuart, 34, doesn’t feel insecure in London and thinks that this police’s decision will serve as a “surveillance against people”. He said to Westminster World: “I think that the way people are told to fear other people is rubbish. We should be looking more to the police instead of people. The only time I have felt genuinely intimidated is when I see large amounts of police together.” 

On the other hand, Andrea Pinza, 26, believes that to make ACT Awareness open to the general public is going to “instruct the public on how to handle situations like that”, even though this it’s not a “solve-all type of thing really. There should be more options than just a 45-min online training.”

Before the ACT Awareness course became available, Francesco Fiore, 27, noticed changes on Londoner’s behavior towards terror threats and attacks. He said: “In the London Bridge attack I saw how people acted immediately to defend the others. In this case, I saw a video in which there was a person having a knife and another citizen went against him to take the knife from that person. This kind of things are already making me feel safer. But this initiative is good. People are now more aware and eager to collaborate.”

The Senior National Coordinator for Protective Security, Lucy D’Orsi, stated that until now, over one and a half million modules have been completed. He said: “The course has been so popular, with nine out of 10 users saying they would recommend it, we want to open it up to as many people as possible.”