Anti-terror authorities launch safety video for British holidaymakers

Sousse victims Stuart Cullen and Philip Heathcote

Sousse victims Stuart Cullen and Philip Heathcote - Credit: Archant

Counter-terrorism authorities are calling on British holidaymakers to be on alert for attacks abroad two years on after two men from Suffolk were killed in the Tunisia beach attacks.

The funeral procession for Philip Heatcote arrives at the Seven Hills Crematorium in Nacton with mou

The funeral procession for Philip Heatcote arrives at the Seven Hills Crematorium in Nacton with mourners paying their respects. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Police and ministers are urging tourists to make sure they are aware of the key steps they can take to stay safe in the event of a terrorist emergency, before they depart.

A new four-minute film adapting the “run, hide, tell” safety message for a holiday setting was released on July 10.

Just over two years ago, thirty Britons were among 38 victims killed when a gunman opened fire at a Tunisian beach resort.

Two of those victims were Philip Heathcote from Felixstowe and Stuart Cullen from Lowestoft.

HHJ Loraine-Smith, the Judge appointed to conduct the Inquests into the deaths of the 30 British nationals killed in Sousse on 26 June 2015, said that the inquest concluded “the thirty victims were killed that morning by a terrorist armed with a high velocity firearm and improvised explosive devices, when that terrorist began shooting at tourists on the beach and inside the grounds of the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse.

“Twenty nine of the victims were killed by a gunshot wound or wounds when the terrorist opened fire. One victim, Stuart Cullen, was killed as a result of blast-generated fragments as well as being shot by the terrorist. Each victim sustained the fatal injuries in the hotel grounds, inside the hotel or on the hotel’s beach.”

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HHJ Loraine-Smith also said within the report that “there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken”.

After hearing evidence that, prior to the attack in Tunisia, neither TUI nor other travel companies had security advisors on their boards, HHJ Loraine-Smith said: “I am informed that TUI now have such an advisor. However I remain concerned that if other companies do not have similar security advisors at board level then hotels which they use will not be adequately protected.

“I [also] remain concerned that other companies which sell holidays, or sell flights and hotel accommodation separately, may not have taken such steps, as a result of which members of the public receive insufficient information about the risks of terrorist attacks in destination countries.”

Police emphasised there is no specific intelligence that UK holidaymakers will be targeted this summer, saying the film is part of a general campaign to raise public awareness.

Detective chief superintendent Scott Wilson, national co-ordinator for the protect and prepare strategy, said: “As we saw in Tunisia in 2015, any westerner is likely to be a target anywhere in the world. That’s the sad reality of it. The chances of it happening are still very low.

“We’ve seen attacks in numerous countries so we are trying to say western tourists overseas should be aware of what they should and shouldn’t do if they are caught up in such an attack.”

The run, hide, tell message was first introduced by UK police in December 2015 and was activated during the London Bridge atrocity last month.

The guidance says that people should run to a place of safety if there is a safe route, leaving belongings behind and insisting others go with them.

If there is nowhere to go, then they should hide by barricading themselves in and turn their phones to silent.

Then, only when it is safe, they should alert the authorities by calling the local emergency number, which holidaymakers should find out in advance. For EU countries it is 112.

Mr Wilson said: “The chances of being caught up in a terrorist incident are still low but sadly we have seen atrocities take place in the UK and abroad.

“So it is important everyone stays alert and knows what to do if the worst was to happen.

“We want people to think of this in the same way they do the safety film airlines show before take-off. They don’t expect anything bad to happen but it is a sensible safety precaution to show people what to do.”

Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon encouraged people to watch the film before they go away.

He said: “While there is no specific information that British holidaymakers will be targeted this summer, it sets out some simple steps we can all take to minimise the impact of an attack if one does take place.”

More than 20,000 travel reps have been trained in safety measures including how to spot suspicious items and activity, as well as what to do in the event of a major terrorist incident.

Nikki White, director of destinations and sustainability at travel association Abta, said: “We know that customers would look to those staff working in their hotels and resorts to take the lead and respond quickly to an emerging situation.”

Watch the “run, hide, tell” video on the Counter Terrorism Police UK Youtube channel.