London commuters have been handed less than comforting guidance on how to stay safe against an attack by extremists as part of a nationwide anti-terrorism campaign.
Some 6,000 passersby have so far been briefed by officers at 80 venues across the country during anti-terrorism week, with those travelling to and from London Bridge Tube station today given a leaflet explaining how to react in a "firearms and weapons" attack.
New leaflet from ACPO distributed at London Bridge this morning. Is Britain bracing for IS blowback? pic.twitter.com/UXIgCI4h3Q— Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack) November 25, 2014
But there are also more adorable measures being put in place to increase security:
Bruno lives with his handler and has his own business card. pic.twitter.com/jULI3WIj38— Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack) November 25, 2014
Bruno the explosives dog on patrol https://t.co/xiz5tKx130— Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack) November 25, 2014
The National Policing Lead for Counter-Terrorism told the Huffington Post UK that the somewhat ominous pamphlet is not something the general public should be scared by.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, said: “We don’t want to scare people but we do want them to understand the threat and be vigilant to things that are out of place or suspicious and report it to the police.”
Counter-terrorism awareness week comes a few months after the terror threat level in the UK was raised from substantial to severe, meaning a terrorist attack is "highly likely", against a backdrop of increasing concerns over hundreds of aspiring British jihadis travelling to Iraq and Syria.
Fears of a terrorist attack on Britain's streets have heightened dramatically in the wake of the rise of Islamic State (IS), the extremist group that has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria and attracted thousands of foreign jihadists to its cause, including more than 500 Britons.
Yesterday, the Home Secretary unveiled a controversial sweeping package of counter-terror measures as it moved to bolster the UK's defences amid warnings of a growing extremist threat that is set to last for several years.
Now, as the counter-terror campaign shifts focuses to protecting transport hubs, transport policing chiefs have warned that commuters can become "oblivious to their surroundings" and miss potential signs of extremist behaviour.
Paul Crowther, chief constable of the British Transport Police (BTP), said passengers using public transport should be alert to the threat of terrorism.
"For commuters, who make the same journey over and over again, it can be easy to become oblivious to their surroundings," he said.
"But I would urge them to remain alert, use their instinct and have the confidence to report anything that strikes them as out-of-place or suspicious."
BTP have units across the UK, monitoring stations and trains every hour of every day, including units with specialist equipment to quickly assess the threat of suspect packages, officers trained in identifying suspicious behaviour and highly trained police dogs, as seen above.
Police will be at transport hubs across the UK to raise awareness of the work they are doing to protect transport networks and encourage members of the public to report suspicious activity.
The Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Andy Ward, spoke yesterday at Liverpool Docks about Operation Kraken, which encourages people who work along the UK coastline to report suspicious activity.
Addressing the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) in London yesterday, the Home Secretary said the threat from jihadists and other fanatics is "greater than it has ever been" as she revealed the range of draconian powers included in a new Counter-terrorism and Security Bill.
Within the new bill, which will be introduced to Parliament on Wednesday and should pass into law before the general election, is a legal requirement by schools, prisons and councils to put in place policies or programmes to stop would-be extremists from being drawn into terrorism.
Legislation will be clarified to make sure insurance companies can no longer foot the bill for terrorist ransoms, suspected foreign fighters will be blocked from returning to the UK and powers will be re-introduced to relocate terror suspects across the country.
Mick Cash, general secretary of transport union RMT, said: "The eyes and ears of the commuter transport system are the staff working on the trains, the platforms, the stations and on the buses.
"While the police alert to commuters is perfectly sound, it is ludicrous the Government and the transport companies are looking to axe guards, conductors and station staff who are trained to spot suspicious behaviour and to deal with evacuations if suspect devices are spotted on the transport system.
"Cutting those staff is a potentially lethal gamble."