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Counter terrorism app used by fans caught up in Paris violence

Protect UK app is part of a wider response to emerge from the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry and London Bridge attacks

Liverpool fans caught up in disturbances with Paris police before the European football final last month used a UK Counter Terrorism Policing app to help them in the aftermath of clashes it has emerged.

Superintendent Adam Thomson, who heads the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (CTSA) said the app had also been used by people caught up in non-CT crimes including acid attacks.

The Protect UK app carries actionable information about what to do in the wake of terrorism attacks.

“Some of the advice on there was used in Paris by Liverpool fans,” Supt Thomson told the Counter Terror Expo conference in London today. “We know that because they have told us.” The information used included medical advice on dealing with the after-effects of CS gas.

“People are also using the app for other incidents,” he added. “The Remove, Remove, Remove piece  has been used by people suffering from acid attacks and normal criminality.”  

The app is the work of Protect UK a programme which combines the CTSA and the Homeland Security Group within the Home Office responsible for CT and tackling serious and organised crime.

Protect UK has also been involved in work that focuses on the CT responsibilities that public sites and businesses now have in the wake of findings to emerge from the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry and the London Bridge attacks.

This includes a new updated list of sites across the UK that present the greatest terrorism risk. Those sites all receive bespoke advice by the counter terrorism security advisors.  

There are plans being developed within Protect UK for a “competent person scheme”. Supt Thomson told delegates that 92 per cent of security professionals had asked to be on the list of competent persons.

This will be part of Protect duty and in all likelihood its supervision will be handed over to the Inspectorate Supt Thomson said.

Ideally the competent person will not be someone who has just done a health and safety or fire safety course but has a level 3 qualification in the subject matter he added. There should also be proper vetting.

“How many security consultants have any vetting?” he asked. “How do we make sure they are properly qualified and are keeping themselves up to date.”

He said one of the things to have come out of the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry is that there is no central standard for security professionals being applied in relation to CT responsibilities.

Within Protect UK there has been a lot of discussion about definitions of sites, zones, locality, authority and so-called grey spaces in relation to the new CT responsibilities and who has them, the conference was told.

“The largest sites are going to have to think about things beyond their perimeter so it isn’t grey space,” Supt Thomson said. “It’s about how do we create a community and locality system that is going to work. That is the definition we are working to. It’s about helping local authorities do certain things.”

The CTSA is involved in a 12-month pilot involving seven police forces and 31 local authorities with CTSA advisors attached to local authorities to help them develop their plans. All local authorities have also been provided with more information through their CT local profiles.

“These used to be about the risk from Prevent but are no about Protect and Prepare,” Supt Thomson added. There is also some additional work being led by the Met’s CT Protective Security Operations (PSO) around planning and licensing to make sure the advice local authorities provides the right tools.    

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