Bomb threat procedure Guidance Note for Managers Background The terrorist threat in the United Kingdom has historically been linked to the affairs of Northern Ireland. However, other groups have also resorted to terrorist crime to publicise their political objectives. Some of these groups are concerned with domestic issues, others operate on an international stage. Some seek to target particular organisations, others are more indiscriminate in their targeting. Norfolk County Council may potentially be exposed to a terrorist threat for a number of reasons including: 1. We are a high profile organisation within the county. 2. A large number of our buildings are open to the public 3. A number of our activities and policies will inevitably be unpopular with sections of the public. It is important however to keep this threat in context and to understand that by far the most common type of threat we face as an organisation will be hoax threats intended to cause disruption and publicity. During the Irish republican terrorist campaign, there were approximately 10,000 bomb threat calls in the Greater London area in one year, of which only 70 were made by terrorists, and of these only 10 resulted in the actual discovery of a device. This means that only 0.0001% of the calls resulted in a bomb being found. The purpose of this guidance is to ensure that all NCC buildings have procedures in place for dealing with the threat of terrorism that are appropriate to the risks they face. As a minimum standard all staffed NCC properties should have a procedure for evacuating the building in the event of a bomb threat (either in their own building or in neighbouring properties). Guidance on establishing such a procedure is given below. Assessing the risk Although it is important that all managers and staff are aware of the guidance in this document, the level of preparedness will vary significantly across the Council’s property portfolio. To assist in the process of assessing the need for precautions, premises have been broadly divided into two categories. Category 1: Buildings to which the public have open access in large urban areas and / or adjacent to high profile sites (e.g. armed forces bases or recruiting centres, Norwich Millennium Library, Norwich Castle etc). Buildings with no open public access adjacent to high profile sites Managers in these buildings, particularly premises managers and senior managers should follow the guidance in this document and ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place for: a. Reception and switchboard staff who may receive a telephoned bomb threat b. Plans for searching and evacuating the building in the event of a bomb threat. c. Business continuity Category 2: Buildings not in Category 1 Managers in Category 2 buildings should acquaint themselves with the guidance in this document (particularly the section on “deter and detect”) and ensure they know how to obtain a copy if necessary. Deter and detect The first line of defence against common criminals may also prevent hoaxers and terrorists from gaining access to a premise or deter them from targeting a particular building. Maintaining external doors in a good condition, including locks, ensuring visitors are accompanied whilst on site, and good standards of lighting both internally and externally will all aid in the prevention of criminal activity (including terrorism). Good housekeeping both inside and outside premises will reduce the opportunity for the planting of devices. It is important to reduce the number of places where devices can be left: Lock unoccupied offices and store cupboards Keep communal areas – stairs, halls, toilets etc clean and tidy Keep furniture in public areas to a minimum Consider removing bins from public areas in buildings (but if this is done then arrangements should be made for additional cleaning in these areas) Keep external areas as clean and tidy as possible; ensure vegetation (particularly near entrances) is well maintained and pruned back. Telephoned bomb threats Most bomb threats are made over the phone and the vast majority of these are hoaxes, often the work of malicious pranksters, although terrorists also make hoax calls. Any such hoax is a crime and should be reported to the Police. Calls from terrorists fall into two categories: Bomb threats where nothing has actually been planted. Bomb threats warning of a genuine device. These may be attempts to avoid casualties, but they also enable the terrorist to blame others if there are casualties. In order to effectively deal with both types of calls, the following actions should be taken by all premises managers, particularly in Category 1 premises: 1. Identify which staff could conceivably receive a bomb threat (this will normally be reception staff and operators particularly in buildings where the phone numbers are publicised or easily accessible to the public) and ensure they are briefed on the action to be taken. A bomb threat checklist is at Appendix 1 and staff should be aware of its contents and where they can quickly access a hard copy so they can record the details of the call. 2. Having taken the call and recorded as much information as possible the member of staff should immediately notify the premises manager or any other senior manager on site so that they can take appropriate action. If it is not possible to contact a manager, the member of staff should contact the Police direct by phoning 999 and giving them as much information as possible. 3. Establish procedures for arranging a search of the premise in the event that a bomb threat is received. The decision on whether or not to search the building will be made by the premises manager or other senior manager on site based on: a. Time allowed in the threat b. Any available advice from the police All such calls should be treated seriously and reported. Staff who receive such calls should be fully supported by their managers and where necessary offered counselling once the initial situation has been dealt with. The premises manager or senior manager who is notified of the bomb threat will need to assess the seriousness of the threat. If it is apparent from the nature or content of the threat (for example a child’s voice, giggling down the phone etc) then it is safe to assume that it is a hoax and no action need be taken (the call should still be reported to the police however). However, if there is any doubt then you should consider instigating either the premises evacuation or search plans depending on the time scale and location quoted in the threat. If the threat applies to a different building, then this information should be immediately relayed to the Police by dialling 999. In the majority of cases the Police will leave the decision on whether or not to evacuate up to premises manager and will also seek their assistance in searching the building if the building is evacuated and prior to any re-entry. It is important therefore to gather as much information about the credibility of the threat before taking the decision to evacuate. Evacuation plan Every premise should have an evacuation plan in the event of a credible threat to that premise or an adjacent building. It is not recommended that the existing Fire Evacuation procedure is simply re-titled for this purpose. The following points should be considered in establishing the evacuation plan: The purpose of the evacuation is to move people away from an area where they might be at risk to a place of lesser risk. Any decision to evacuate the premises should be viewed as an option of last resort after consideration of all available information. The decision to evacuate will normally be taken by the premises manager, but the police will advise. Simply responding to an incident by evacuating everyone from the premises is not always the correct action. Evacuation of large numbers of people can be both traumatic and dangerous for both staff and the public. Panic can be easily induced, causing people to rush, therefore increasing the risk of injury and accidents. Depending on the size of a suspect device it may only be necessary to evacuate part of the building. This option should always be considered when thinking “evacuation”. Evacuation does not simply mean moving everyone out of the building and away from it. Moving people from one side of the building to the other may also be an option. All evacuation plans must cover: Designated routes and exits Designated staff to act as marshals A minimum of two assembly areas at least 500 metres from the buildings (car parks should not be used) Briefing and instruction for staff with particular responsibilities and practices for all staff An evacuation pack to be taken upon evacuation including mobile phone and first aid kit. Appendix 1 Bomb threat checklist This checklist is designed to help your staff to deal with a telephoned bomb threat effectively and to record the necessary information. Print it off and fix it to walls or desks so that staff can see it instantly. Refer also to our advice on the bomb threat procedure guidance. Actions to be taken on receipt of a bomb threat: - Switch on tape recorder (if connected) - Tell the caller which town / district you are answering from - Record the exact wording of the threat: _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ Ask the following questions: - where is the bomb right now? _______________________________ - when is it going to explode? _______________________________ - what does it look like? _______________________________ - what kind of bomb is it? _______________________________ - what will cause it to explode? _______________________________ - did you place the bomb? _______________________________ - why? _______________________________ - what is your name? _______________________________ - what is your address? _______________________________ - what is your telephone number? _______________________________ _ Record time call completed: _______________________________ Where automatic number reveal equipment is available, record number shown: _______________________________ Inform the Security Co-ordinator - Name and telephone number of the person informed: _______________________________ Contact the police on 999. Time informed:_________________ The following part should be completed once the caller has hung up and the Security Co- ordinator (or, if the Security Co-ordinator is not available, the police) has been informed. Time and date of call: _______________________________ Length of call: _______________________________ Number at which call was received (i.e. your extension number): _______________________________ ABOUT THE CALLER Sex of caller: _______________________________ Nationality: _______________________________ Age: _______________________________ THREAT LANGUAGE (tick) Well spoken? Irrational? Taped message? Offensive? Incoherent? Message read by threat-maker? CALLER'S VOICE (tick) Calm? Crying? Clearing throat? Angry? Nasal? Slurred? Excited? Stutter? Disguised? Slow? Lisp? Accent? If so, what type?______________________________ Rapid? Deep? Hoarse? Laughter? Familiar? If so, whose voice did it sound like? _____________________ BACKGROUND SOUNDS (tick) Street noises? House noises? Animal noises? Crockery? Motor? Clear? Voice? Static? PA system? Booth? Music? Factory machinery? Office machinery? Other? (specify) _______________ OTHER REMARKS _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ Signature _______________________________ Date _______________________________ Print name _______________________________ Appendix 2 Tell-tale signs that may indicate a suspect device The item is unexpected or of unusual origin or from an unusual sender There is no return address or the address cannot be verified The item id poorly or inaccurately addressed e.g. incorrect title, title but no name, spelt wrongly or addressed to an individual no longer with the Council. The address has been printed unevenly or in an unusual way e.g. by dry transfer instant lettering such as Letraset or Uno Stencil. The writing is in an unfamiliar foreign style. There are unusual post marks or postage paid marks A “jiffy” bag or similar padded envelope has been used The item seems unusually heavy for its size The item has more than the appropriate value of stamps for its size and weight. The item is marked “personal” or “confidential” The item is oddly shaped or lopsided The envelope flap is stuck down completely (a harmless letter usually has an ungummed gap of 3-5mm at the corners There are protruding wires There is a pin-sized hole in the package wrapping or the envelope. There is a smell – particularly of almonds or marzipan. The item feels and looks like a book. There is an additional inner envelope, and it is tightly taped or tied. Possible additional indicators of packages containing Chemical, Biological or Radioactive (CBR) materials: o Warnings on the letter or package o Unexpected granular, crystalline or finely powdered material (of any colour and usually of the consistency of coffee, sugar or baking powder), loose or in a container. o Unexpected sticky substances, sprays or vapours. o Unexpected pieces of metal or plastic, such as discs, rods, small sheets or spheres. o Strange smells e.g. garlicky, fishy, fruity, mothballs, peppery, meaty, rotten – but remember, if you detect a smell, not to go on sniffing it. Remember too that some CBR materials are odourless and tasteless. o Stains or dampness on the packaging o Sudden onset of illness or irritation of skin, eyes or nose.
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