The current state of counter-terrorism training has been a source of concern in the UK following two terrorist attacks in June, which together killed 30 people.
The UK latest initiative – run in partnership with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) – follows a range of similar measures by other countries such as Australia.
One of the world's leading cybercrime and counter-terrorism experts has warned that Australian airports are “extremely vulnerable” to infiltration by terrorists.
Dr Jim Kent, an adviser to the United Nations who pioneered digital investigation techniques as a UK police officer, said recent events have highlighted the potential for terrorists to infiltrate airports by corrupting airport officials or hacking digital systems.
Other industries in Australia, including education and retail, have also been providing training to staff around how to identify and respond to terrorist incidents.
Retailers at the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, Australia, recently received a memo saying that staff would receive training in handling active shooter and explosive device situations.
Throughout the program for UK travel staff, employees will be shown three films showing what to expect and how to respond in the safest way to a terrorist threat. Employees will also be given advice on how to spot suspicious items and activity.
So far, more than 23,000 employees have participated in the program, which is being funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office.
The key advice for holidaymakers to improve their chances of staying safe is:
- Run – to a place of safety. This is better than trying to surrender or negotiate
- Hide – it is better to hide than confront. Barricade yourself in, turn your phone to silent, and only when it is safe to do so.
- Tell – the authorities by calling the emergency number. Before your trip check the local emergency service number. For the EU, it’s 112 – other numbers can be found here.
Detective chief superintendent Scott Wilson, national coordinator for protect and prepare, said that while the chances of being caught up in a terrorist incident are still low, there have nonetheless been atrocities in the UK and abroad.
“It is important everyone – staff and customers – stays alert and knows what to do if the worst was to happen,” she said in a statement.
Wilson said it is understandable that people want to go on holiday to relax and enjoy themselves, but they need to remain vigilant at all times.
“We want people to think of this in the same way they do the safety film airlines show before take-off,” she said.
“They don’t expect anything bad to happen but it is a sensible safety precaution to show people what to do.”
Dr Kent told Fairfax ahead of a meeting with the Australian Federal Government that the risk of terrorist incidents was greater when large agencies operated in silos.
“Airports are still extremely vulnerable to infiltration ... by terrorist groups because critical monitoring of unusual activity and enforcement of security measures is rarely joined up,” he said.
“Terrorist groups could still work their way into an airport like a virus, for example by covertly infiltrating baggage handlers, immigration staff, freight drivers, pilots and cabin crew.”
A new program is teaching UIK travel industry staff how to identify and respond to terrorist incidents.