Monday, 16 November 2015

A time to reflect

Early Saturday morning I switched on my radio to hear about the devastating attacks in Paris the night before. Shocked and saddened my thoughts and sympathies, like so many others, are very much with all those families and friends of those affected and of course with all the first responders and services who will be working flat out on this terrible situation for quite some time. It is difficult to imagine what the Parisian community as a whole are going through – but the considerable  support, demonstrations of solidarity, good will and prayers from so many across the globe I hope are of some comfort as they struggle to come to terms with the atrocities bestowed on them on Friday night.

Sadly we have seen similar random attacks across the globe, over the years, on innocent people who are guilty of no more than being out and about in a place at one time.

So where does that leave us here in West Sussex - should we be worried? Interestingly since August 2014 the UK has been on ‘severe’ level of threat and over that time we have to accept that it is easy for all of us to become a little relaxed and complacent with the level of threat that residents of the UK have found themselves living with on a day to day basis. However, after Friday we all need to be mindful of the situation and need to be vigilant in our day to day activities.

WSCC works closely with our communities and other organisations to make West Sussex a safe and resilient county for our residents and businesses alike. We engage 24/7 with other emergency services and organisations to ensure that we deal swiftly and effectively with incidents that impact upon our county. The tragic incident at Shoreham in August is an good example of how all services pull together in an emergency.

We do have  clear and robust procedures in place and these are shared with our partner agencies in order to learn from each other. This prepares us as a local authority to plan, educate and inform those within our own county to prepare and mitigate against such threats.

But we all have a part to play, so in this period of heightened alert it is really important for us to remain vigilant, trust our instincts and report suspicious activity to the police or anonymously to the number below by calling the confidential anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 or 999 in an emergency.

Here are some examples of suspicious behaviour to watch out for:

  • People in stationary vehicles watching a building or structure, for no apparent reason.
  • 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 for no apparent reason.
  • Someone paying close attention to specific entry and exit points; stairwells, hallways, fire escapes for no apparent reason.
  • People loitering at or near premises for long periods, watching patrons, 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.
  • Members of the public in offices and ‘off limits’ areas, plant rooms and similar locations.

It may be absolutely nothing, but if you see or hear anything that you think could be terrorist-related trust your instincts and call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 – we all have a part to play.

Best wishes,
Louise

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