In this day and age, businesses need to make sure they have the appropriate processes and procedures in place so as to deal with a terrorist attack or bomb threat appropriately. It’s important to note that the vast majority of bomb threats are in fact hoaxes that are called in so as to cause alarm or disruption, but it may well be terrorists making the call in the first place so as to intimidate business, communities and the public, and to mislead the police.
Another key point to bear in mind is that while the traditional method of a bomb threat has been via phone call, these days they can also take place over social media or via email as well. Even if you think that the threat itself seems ridiculous or implausible, you still need to take it seriously and remember that any communication of this kind is actually a crime and you should still report it to the police.
Bomb threat messages that contain precise and accurate information about the event, and be sent well in advance of such an attack taking place are sadly quite rare. Threats are likely to be made over the phone in person, but you could be sent a recorded message or a letter as well. Threats can also be communicated by a third party, either an organisation or a person who is not related to the intended victims.
Remember that anyone at your place of business who has access to a direct line, mobile, tablet or PC could actually receive a bomb threat, which is why it’s so important that you ensure all members of staff are trained appropriately and effectively so they know what to do in such an event. If a telephone threat is made, stay calm and listen carefully. Have access to a checklist on the important information that should be made a note of, try to keep the caller talking and get a colleague to call the police, and make a note of the number they’re calling from if this is available.
If the threat is a recorded message, write down as much of it as possible and if it’s sent by text message, do not reply, forward or delete it. Make a note of the number and follow police advice as to what to do. You should also know who to get in touch with at your company if a threat is received - such as a senior manager or the security guards - as they’ll have to make an assessment of the threat.
The responsibility for the initial decisions regarding bomb threats remain with those in charge of where you are. You shouldn’t wait for the police to arrive before taking action. External evacuation may be appropriate, so make sure that you have marshals appointed ahead of time and evacuation points decided upon, as well as assembly points. These should be at least 500m away from the location, incident or suspicious item if one of these can be seen. Try not to make the assembly point a car park if possible.
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