The British Transport Police have been handing out leaflets to commuters all across the country urging them to “run, hide and tell” in the event of a Mumbai-style terrorist attack on Britain’s railways. Featuring images of commuters cowering in the dark, police have justified the leaflet as an attempt to keep commuters safe but members of the public have taken to Twitter to mock and ridicule it.
In 2008 ten gunmen from the Islamic terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (Army of the Righteous) rampaged through Mumbai for three days, killing 164 people in locations including a packed railway station, a busy restaurant, two hotels, a cinema and a hospital. British police are concerned that a similar attack may be carried out on British soil.
This week, commenting on the on-going threat of terrorism in the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May said “There have been attempts to conduct marauding “Mumbai-style” gun attacks on our streets, blow up the London Stock Exchange, bring down airliners, assassinate a British ambassador and murder serving members of our armed forces.”
The threat has prompted the British Transport Police to launch a campaign designed to raise awareness and urge vigilance on the part of British commuters. They have been handing out leaflets reading “Stay Safe. If you hear gunfire or a weapons attack, leave the area safely if you can. If this puts you in greater danger, find a safe place to take cover. Make a plan now and stay safe”.
Chief Constable of British Transport Police (BTP) Paul Crowther has justified the campaign saying: “More than six million people travel on our railways every single day. For commuters, who make the same journey over and over again, it can be easy to become oblivious to their surroundings. 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.
“Earlier this month a man was sentenced for terrorism offences after being caught in possession of information about how to make bombs. This was as a direct result of a rail passenger reporting suspicions to train staff. We need others to follow suit and play their part in keeping the UK’s transport systems safe from terrorists.”
But the leaflet drew criticism online, with members of the public taking to Twitter to ridicule it and the government for their poor response to terrorism. Chris Irvine dismissed it as “disgraceful scaremongering,” while ‘Jadiebops’ commented “in other words, the gov have absolutely no idea what to do.” Sean Moran said “So we must ‘run’ and ‘hide’. Thanks for that advice. Thanks for inviting the jihadists into our country”.
Others questioned the timid nature of the advice. Tom Clarke simply asked “C’mon, where’s our bulldog spirit?” John Strange pondered “Image Churchill, middle of the Blitz: ‘Run, hide and tell! Teresa May must be a very timid person,” whilst Nora Llopart commented “I disagree. No fear. Find your courage, rise and prevail.”
Theresa May will publish the new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill today, dubbed by privacy campaigners as a ‘Snoopers’ Charter’. Justifiying the new measures she said “We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology. These powers are essential to keep up with the very serious and rapidly changing threats we face.
“In an open and free society, we can never entirely eliminate the threat from terrorism. But we must do everything possible in line with our shared values to reduce the risks posed by our enemies.
“This bill includes a considered, targeted set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger by ensuring we have the powers we need to defend ourselves.”