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York Minster
UK News

Police urge as many churches as possible to take offer of free terrorist response training

by Cara Bentley

Counter terrorism policing are urging as many places of worship as possible to sign up to a free online course about terrorism safety called 'ACT awareness' (Action Counters Terrorism).

Nick Aldworth, a Chief Super Intendent and the National Coordinator for the 'Protect and Prepare' programme, told Premier: "We now have an opportunity to broaden our reach and to provide a service to faith establishments that perhaps we haven't necessarily been able to push before.

"ACT awareness e-learning is an online product that we can make available to faith establishments to help both those who run the establishment but also those who worship at them, to understand what terrorism is and how to prepare for it and, I hope it doesn't happen, but how to respond to it if it does happen."

"I think it's very important for me to say that, you know, there is no reason to believe that a faith community in the UK will be attacked but, you know what, it's really important in this day and age that everybody understands what they need to be prepared for."

The course teaches those who sign up about current methodology of terrorism, how to mitigate against it and to understand how terrorists often operate. 

The modules available are:

  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 Material

Nick Aldworth said the course will help churches understand their own building and the changes they could make to be extra cautious, such as closing specific doors or not leaving bags lying around. 

"It's about seeing the things that look out of place and the advantage that most faith establisments have is they have a regular congregation and therefore things that I might not notice probably will be noticed by the people using those establishments.

"And so the opportunity is there to spot those things. And what that doesn't then mean is a great big over the top response, it means something as simple as going to say hello, which of course is at the very heart of many faith establishment's thinking anyway!"

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