“Be alert, not alarmed” is the key message from Police Scotland as they carry out a range of activities to raise awareness on countering the threat of terrorism and offer reassurance to the public.
The UK Counter Terrorism network’s Counter Terrorism Awareness Week begins on Friday, November 25 and runs until Sunday, December 4.
In support of this, Police Scotland officers from across the country will conduct a number of high profile engagements and high-visibility patrols today (Friday), aimed at raising awareness on efforts to counter the threat from terrorism and providing reassurance to communities.
Communities throughout Scotland have identified counter-terrorism as a key policing priority through their participation in the ‘Your View Counts’ consultation survey, which played an important role in shaping the day.
The main focus of today will be on the promotion of safety and security advice and guidance within crowded public spaces, given that recent terrorist incidents across the world have, in the main, targeted such areas.
Communities should continue going about their daily business as usual but be vigilant and report suspicious behaviour.
A range of specialist officers, departments, external agencies and other relevant partners will take part in various engagement opportunities in city centres and large towns across Scotland.
In total, over 500 Police Scotland resources will be utilised on the day, with numerous representatives from a variety of partner agencies also supporting the activity.
Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins, Police Scotland’s National Protect and Prepare Lead, said: “The recent findings from the ‘Your View Counts’ survey showed us that Scotland’s communities see terrorism as one of their biggest concerns, reflecting the current threat level from International Terrorism.
“We have responded accordingly to demonstrate the everyday work we carry out alongside our partners to keep the public safe and informed on relevant security issues.
“Friday 25th November is traditionally a busy shopping day with the start of the Christmas shopping sales, meaning towns and cities across the country will be extremely busy.
“We will be working alongside many partners including British Transport Police, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Security Industry Authority, and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association during the initiative and throughout Counter Terrorism Awareness Week.
“Together, we will carry out a range of activities across Scotland, including high visibility patrols and engagement events.
“I would stress that this initiative is not being carried out in response to any specific intelligence, but to ensure our communities have all the information and support they require to keep safe by being alert, not alarmed, remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious behaviour.
“It has often been said that ‘communities defeat terrorism’ and I am firmly of the belief that this is the case. We must all ensure that the threat posed by terrorists operating world-wide does not undermine the positive relationships which exist across communities in Scotland.”
Chief Superintendent John McBride from British Transport Police added: “We should be proud of the fact that we have a largely open and accessible transport network in this country. However this means the police and public must work together to ensure it remains as secure and safe as possible.
“Millions of people travel on our railways every week. For commuters, who make the same journey over and over again, it can be easy to become oblivious to their surroundings.
“Working together, utilising the eyes and the ears of rail staff and the public in our surveillance of the transport system, combined with our already substantial CCTV coverage, provides the best opportunity of keeping the network safe by detecting and stopping attacks.”
Detective Superintendent David Roney, National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters, said “Tackling terrorism is a responsibility for all of us and everyone has a role to play in keeping us safe.
“When we all work together we are more resilient. I would like to encourage everyone to remain vigilant and be confident in reporting unusual or suspicious behaviour to police.”
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Understandably, many people in Scotland have concerns about the threats posed by terrorism. That is why initiatives like Counter Terrorism Awareness Week are important, providing practical advice that can help ensure we all remain safe and secure.
“As part of the week, Police Scotland and their partners are taking forward a wide range of engagements, which I am sure will both inform and reassure the public. I would urge local communities and businesses to participate.”