The British Government’s advice to “run, hide, tell” in the event of a terrorist attack has been comprehensively lambasted by security sources who said it might as well be “run, hide, die.” They say the American advice to “run, hide, fight” is much more likely to save lives.
In the wake of the Paris attacks last week, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office has issued updated advice on what to do in the event of a shooting attack. The advice given includes suggestions to “escape if you can” and to assess whether there is a safe route out, stating “RUN, if not, HIDE”.
It advises finding “cover from gunfire e.g. substantial brickwork / heavy reinforced walls,” although it adds “bullets go through glass, brick, wood and metal.” Once there, the advice is to call 999, being ready to answer questions describing the attacker, including where he or she is, and describe the wider scene, for example the number of casualties.
However, a senior security source has told the Sunday Times that the advice is completely unhelpful, as the best thing to do in some cases is to fight back. “If you run and you are discovered and you hide and you are found, the only thing you can do is fight,” he said.
“If you are a cornered rat and you are about to die, what are you going to do? You have got to have a go.
“‘Run, hide, tell’ — that’s not remotely helpful. You might as well ‘run, hide, die’, frankly.”
In stark contrast to the British advice is that being handed out by US security agencies, which suggest that potential victims run, hide, and as a last resort, fight back.
A video released by the FBI warns “unfortunately, you need to be prepared for the worst.
“As a last resort, if your life is at risk, fight. Act with aggression. Improvise weapons. Disarm him, and commit to taking the shooter down.”
The American advice is the result of analysis of 160 “active shooter events,” which showed that in 21 cases unarmed civilians managed to overpower the gunman.
Israel has suffered a spate of knife and gun attacks over the last few weeks, but in a number of those, civilians were able to overpower the assailant and prevent deaths. In one case a Palestinian tried to board a bus, stabbing the driver who fought him off until he fled. The attacker was then shot by a prison service guard.
Closer to home, in August a number of passengers aboard a Paris – Amsterdam train, including three Americans, brought down a heavily armed gunman after he opened fire, thus averting disaster.
In other cases armed civilians have been able to prevent attacks before they escalate. In February, the Mayor of Jerusalem stopped a knife attack before anyone was seriously hurt. His bodyguard pointed a gun at the assailant while the Mayor strode over to him and wrestled him to the ground.
In another case a Palestinian who had ploughed his car into a group of people at a bus stop and was in the act of stabbing them was stopped by a civilian with a hand gun. The attacker was brought to the ground and held there by a number of people until security forces could arrive.
Commenting on the advice, The National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “We keep all of our public advice under review. However, there are no plans to adopt the ‘run, hide, fight’ advice which is used in some other countries. The ‘run, hide, tell’ mantra has been proven to save lives.”