Government renews calls for terror attack rehearsals

The Government has renewed calls for schools, offices, hospitals and other public places to be prepared for terrorist attacks following last weekend's Reading stabbings.

Following the attack in which three people were killed and three more injured, the Home Office has republished advice urging various locations to rehearse their responses to what it calls marauding terror attacks.

Such attacks are categorised as "fast-moving and violent", with assailants moving through a location aiming to kill or injure as many people as possible, and with most deaths occurring within minutes, before police can arrive.

The advice booklet, published by the national counter-terrorism security office on the Gov.uk website, says: "Defending your organisation against a marauding terrorist attack is undoubtedly a challenging task ... However, with well developed procedures, security systems, training and rehearsal, lives can be saved."

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A police officer standing guard on Sunday outside the corridor of a top-floor flat in Basingstoke Road, Reading, where the suspect in the Forbury Gardens stabbings was detained. The suspect in the Reading stabbings is a Libyan asylum seeker and mental health is being considered a major factor in the incident, a security source has told the PA news agency.
A woman places some flowers at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
A message left on some flowers at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
Police near an entrance to Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
Flowers and a message left at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
Police at the Abbey gateway of Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre following a multiple stabbing attack in the gardens which took place at around 7pm on Saturday leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured.
Forensic officers at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Armed police officers at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Emergency services at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Emergency services at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police near Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Police at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident"
Armed police officers at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off the Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
An armed police officer at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
Armed police officers at a block of flats off Basingstoke Rd in Reading after an incident at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre.
TOPSHOT - Floral tributes are seen at a police cordon at the Abbey Gateway near Forbury Gardens park in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020 following a fatal stabbing incident the previous day. - British police said Sunday they were treating a stabbing spree in which a lone assailant killed three people in a park filled with families and friends in the southern English city of Reading as a "terrorism incident". (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
READING, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: A view of the outside of the top floor of a block of flats on the Basingstoke Road on June 21, 2020 in Reading, England. A lone attacker targeted groups of people socialising in Forbury Gardens stabbing them in the neck in what police are treating as a terror incident. Three people have died and three more who were injured are in a serious condition. Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTSPE) raided a block of flats in the city last night. A 25-year-old male Libyan National is in police custody. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Police officers secure a police cordon at the Abbey Gateway near Forbury Gardens park in Reading, west of London, on June 21, 2020 following a stabbing incident the previous day. - British police said Sunday they were keeping an open mind about what prompted a lone suspect to stab three people to death in a park filled with families and friends relaxing in the southern English city of Reading. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
READING, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Flowers are left at an entrance to Forbury Gardens for the victims of the stabbing attack on June 21, 2020 in Reading, England. A lone attacker targeted groups of people socialising in Forbury Gardens stabbing them in the neck in what police are treating as a terror incident. Three people have died and three more injured and are in serious condition. Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTSPE) raided a block of flats in the city last night. A 25-year-old male Libyan National is in police custody. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Forensic officers at Forbury Gardens in Reading town centre where they are responding to a "serious incident" (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
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The advice is said to be most relevant to office buildings but can also apply to locations including schools, cinemas, hospitals, shopping centres, stadiums and transport hubs.

The booklet was first drafted after simulations carried out in 2017 and 2018.

But it has been republished after warnings from Home Secretary Priti Patel last week that the threat from so-called lone wolf terrorists was on the rise, and as many locations reopen again after the coronavirus lockdown.

It addresses how to respond to "low sophistication" attacks, such as those using bladed weapons or vehicles, through to more complex terrorist actions involving guns or explosives.

Incidents including the London Bridge and Westminster Bridge killings of 2017 are classed as marauding attacks.

"Rehearsing the response to a marauding terrorist attack is the only way to ensure that the procedures and technical systems function as expected and to highlight areas for improvement," the advice says.

"Rehearsals are also key in preparing security and front-line personnel since the actions required of them during an attack do not form part of their usual duties.

"Testing components and later full integration of your procedures using practical rehearsals will highlight real-world issues and areas for further improvement."

The booklet contains practical advice including that the method of alerting people to an attack is crucial in minimising the risks of death and injury – for example, avoiding using the word "firearm" in public address announcements as it could be misheard as "fire alarm".

Pre-recorded warnings were also said to be not as effective as live announcements.

Warnings of a "security incident" were also described as ineffective in describing a terrorist attack according to the booklet, which publishes recommended announcements and recommends text messaging and smartphone apps among other ways to sound the alarm.

The advice also details how rehearsals can teach people how to act in the event of a dangerous intruder in a given location, and how to alert and help police under stress.

"You can go so far with briefing documents, videos and lectures but when you put these people into safe and managed stress test situations that's where you start to see the real benefit of a full rehearsal," the booklet says.

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