Fire & Forget

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Ronald and Penelope Jones, the couple who have fostered at least 268 children over the years, a number which unfortunately includes the Parsons Green bomber, are obviously good and decent people. The very best of citizens in fact. They strike me though, through these unfortunate circumstances, to be a metaphor for the well meaning but soft and naive media and London elite led calls two years ago to throw open our doors to so called refugees. I wrote this at the time,

(from the  original piece )

(from the original piece)

So the UK is to accept thousands of Syrian refugees.

The media frenzy has leveraged up the emotional blackmail leaving the Prime Minister with no where to turn. He should have turned to the citizens who will again bear the brunt of the influx. If the Government chooses to act on whatever happens to be the latest issue trending on Twitter then good luck to them but it’s hardly statesman like. The dead child on a Turkish beach seems to have been the tipping point. That was the dead child on a Turkish beach proving Stalin’s dictum that ‘one death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic.’ The boy drowned after getting on board a Turkish boat run by Turkish smugglers in Turkish waters under the eyes of the Turkish coastguard. How does that become the problem for citizens in our towns and cities who already are swamped with previous waves of immigration creating overcrowded schools, GP’s and housing lists. Moreover, why get in the boat in the first place? If the family were fleeing war they had succeeded in doing that by being in Turkey. If the father had acted as recklessly in the UK he’d now be in jail awaiting trial.

I have read a number of pieces on the web from locals suggesting that many of these refugees are not Syrian, Afghani or Iraqi but include Palestinians and others. Have you noticed incidentally, just how many apparent refugees are young men aged between 10 and 30 carrying the latest smartphones and wearing spic and span Nike trainers? One could say that anyone living in the Middle East could have refugee status, I wouldn’t want to live there but the line, a line, must be drawn.

That we were lucky that the Parsons Green device was unstable and failed to properly detonate doesn't really do justice to 'lucky.' It seems pretty apparent to me that local councils responsible for farming these 'refugees,' out to the community are simply not equipped to do so. These young men can't be integrated before they have had a period of cultural decompression, orientation and education. To do anything else is breathtakingly stupid and irresponsible. Ignore it and it is not a large step to get to a situation as they are enduring in Sweden with a monumental rise in crimes against women or to harvest more victims here from their bomb-making. Whatever the Commissioner and Home Secretary say, this problem isn't going away anytime soon and we don't appear to have much of a plan to fix it. You'd think the very obvious place to start would be to ban buckets on public transport. 

It is typical that our political class react to a Twitter led media waves of angst and fury with an immediate quick-fix fire and forget solution as they did in 2015. The problem is, that is exactly what the terrorist does as he walks away. Funny how we haven't heard from Geldorf on the subject by the way.... or any of his cheerleaders. 

 

Courage

For the casualties; the Regimental Band of the Coldstream Guards and Pipes and Drums of the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) play the beautiful Sands of Kuwait.

It’s Book Club night so the Coven are getting together elsewhere to stir their potions and compose some new spells against a backdrop of suitably windy and wet weather. The dogs are dozing and I am sitting in that lost space between finishing supper and waiting for the post 10pm exit poll for the first indications of how went the day. I can’t say I am too exited. The election campaign has been a missed opportunity for so many to present a challenging and interesting, vibrant and exciting platform for the future. Instead we have had slow-and-steady or being exulted to believe in fairies. Kind of like a choice between school dinners or blowing all your money in one mad night at the casino. Utterly forgettable the lot of them. If that is the best we can come up with as a country then something has truly warped and ruined our usually imaginative, if occasionally cranky, national DNA.

So, my mind has been wandering as it often does. I can’t help dwelling on the extraordinary courage and tenacity of a small number of individuals last Saturday night on London Bridge and in Borough market. The Aussie nurse who ran headlong into danger to help, the journalist who strode over to take on the terrorists, the London Transport police officer who stood in the shoes of so many before him, the bar manager who struggled to keep the doors of the bar closed against the attackers, the young Spaniard swinging his skateboard to defend others, the bloody minded Millwall fan who wasn’t having any of it. Brave, brave people who in an instant, were confronted with life threatening danger. Up close and personal and through instinctive self preservation, training, selfless courage, anger, belligerence, selflessness; who knows, something clicked in. They saved lives. In some cases at the cost of their own. Others amongst them suffered grevious wounds. We will remember that day for many reasons.

John Bamford GC. Awarded the George Cross in 1952 at the age of 15 after rescuing his two brothers from a house fire despite suffering terrible burns

John Bamford GC. Awarded the George Cross in 1952 at the age of 15 after rescuing his two brothers from a house fire despite suffering terrible burns

We don’t give awards for bravery away with Lucky Bags in this country. The starting premise, certainly for those in uniform, is that everyone does their bit. That is, you have to do something a bit special, above and beyond to be recognised. When recognition is due though, the system is usually unstinting in recognising it. There are occasional omissions. It has often been the case that acts of bravery have not been witnessed, some people have been better at writing citations up than have others but as a general rule, the right thing happens. The hurdles to recognition are unashamedly high. For example, as a rule of thumb, it is said that for the George Cross Committee of the Cabinet Office to recommend the award of a George Cross, (awarded to civilians and the equal of the Victoria Cross), there should have been a 90% probability of the recipient being killed. You can see some examples on the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association web site here. Members of Army Regiments and Corps mostly all know the names of their Regiments recipients of the Victoria Cross and all recruits are taught in their Regimental history lessons the stories of days when their forbears won multiple awards in the same action such as the Lancashire Fusiliers ‘Six VC’s before breakfast,’ at Gallipoli. 

I believe the actions of those brave individuals on Saturday night will, in time and after an appropriate period of mourning for the dead, be seen in that light. Their fighting spirit and sacrifice will come to have some meaning for us all and they will be remembered for a very, very long time, not just for their individual actions but for what collectively it signifies. A medal is not worth a life, it just isn’t. But embracing what they did, and remembering them, might save lives. I genuinely do believe we ought to start treating the dead and wounded of terrorist actions as war casualties and give the memory of their actions the dignity they earned.

"Things Need To Change"

The barbaric and godless agents of Jihad brought murder and mayhem to our Capital's streets again last night. As the texts came through to the dinner party I was at everyone’s thoughts were immediately with our kids, family and friends living in London. At some point most of us have walked across London Bridge, most of us have had a drink in Borough Market. As the days pass, many of us will be not many degrees of separation from people who were there or have been killed or injured. Again, we were lucky that the attack was close to major trauma hospitals and the Met were simply outstanding in dropping the terrorists within 8 minutes of the first 999 call. The attack could have been worse, and it again it may prove to be the case when the full details are released that we were lucky in that the full horror of what was planned was not executed to it’s fullest potential extent. 

It was encouraging to hear Theresa May say this morning that, "We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change….” Is this perhaps the “moment of collective recognition,’ to which I previously referred when as a nation we get serious about the Islamist threat rather than leaving it to for the police and security services to deal with and hope we will be okay? I hope so. Action on a broader more public perspective is overdue and the blame lies mostly on the shoulders of politicians across the spectrum who have refused to engage and debate the problem of extremism. Some of these politicians should take these mass murders as a reality check and confront some of their past decisions and their bovine intransigence exhibited when matters of individual liberty are in conflict with the safety and well being of society as a whole. Are you listening Nick Clegg and the rest of the cloth-eared Guardian reading muppets who put their arrogant ill-thought out high-mindedness before good ordinary common sense? We are not in a school debate; we are effectively, at war.

Maajid Nawaz talks to Fox News about Islamist extremism and the bigotry of low expectations. In the discussion, Maajid also argues a case for why his fellow liberals should stop saying this has nothing to do with Islam.

To that end, there are one or two immediate steps the government of the day, (whoever that might be from Thursday), can take to offer the public reassurance and I am sure that the Home Office is working on tweaking things like the Prevent policy as I write. A good place to start would be to listen to what some Muslims are suggesting. As obvious as it might sound, half of Westminster has been listening to the wrong, mostly self appointed, ‘leaders of the Muslim community,' and the other half haven’t been listening to anybody. Some, like former Islamist Majeed Nawaz have however good and logical advice to offer. We must listen and act.

For what it is worth, I think it would be a comfort to the wounded from all terrorist attacks to be told, “you are innocent casualties of war. As such you will be entitled to the full support of the State. If you choose to do so, you may elect to be fast tracked in your treatment and rehabilitation onto the military system. You will have access to the full range of medical services, doctors, mental health specialists and rehabilitation centres as you require them and you will enjoy priority access to those services for your lifetime. You will be eligible for full financial support and enhanced disability pensions with immediate effect and for the rest of your life.” Military medical services have not always been what they might have been but by the end of the Afghan engagement they were pretty slick and the work done at Headley Court, (soon to move to Stanford Hall in the Midlands), and Help for Heroes Tedworth House and Phoenix House Recovery centres provides an awesome state of the art rehab package. Moreover, any military charities who wish to offer support will be given exemption by the Charities Commission so to do. Such actions might seem trivial and disingenuous to someone lying in a hospital bed after multiple operations but in time, it might be seen as a meaningful gesture and would be well received in the country. It would also, as a statement of intent, send a message to all and help enfranchise the population in our purpose which is to defeat the terrorist.

The attack last night showed the kind of coordinated planning which was always likely to evolve from past attacks. There will be more. The suddenness, shock and brutality didn’t end last evening. The knife / machete /sword attack is much favoured by Islamists with multiple examples in the Middle East, China, the USA, Canada and Germany. Indeed, the campaign in Israel has been termed the ‘knife Intifada,’ by Hamas. Sharp blade attacks are bloody and they are terrifying. In so much as the ordinary decent citizen may be in a position to defend themselves, lets look at some elementary principles which may have value in a survival situation.

As with most incidents the citizen should be aware of the attack planning cycle, (described in this 2014 post).  Terrorist attacks incidentally are rarely spontaneous. They usually go through a distinct six stage attack cycle which includes planning and reconnaissance. Appropriate awareness of your environment can help citizens spot terrorist surveillance with things or people that are out of place, suspicious and which may represent a threat. This also represents an obvious vulnerability to the terrorist. Whilst a knife attack may be an attack of opportunity rather than one that has been planned, reconnoitred and rehearsed, there may nonetheless be ‘tells,’ that suggest someone is acting suspiciously and may be about to launch an attack. Look for unusual or erratic behaviour that is out of place. If unusual posture, tenseness, a fixed stare, agitated or nervous behaviour, perspiration or actions that suggest the person may be ‘high,’ on something then lift your ‘situational awareness,’ to your highest state of alertness.

For a knife to hurt you you must be within arms length of the bad guy. The sooner you anticipate trouble coming the sooner you can put distance between yourself and the assailant or prepare to defend yourself. As I describe in the previous post, while the art of ‘ situational awareness,’ is easily learned and practiced few people bother. Why indeed should they have needed to for most of their lives? For most it is just something one does when in unfamiliar environments or, for example, at night in a badly lit street. Staying ‘ switched-on,’ though is simple, costs nothing and could save your life. Do not for example, wear headphones when out and about. You just won’t hear the bad guy coming. Obviously, the victims of last nights attack had no warning but the next attack may differ in its methodology. 

The best defence against a sharp blade attack is to stay out of range. Always run not fight if you are able. For lethality, the assailant must get to within 3-5 feet of you. If you are cornered with no exit, prepare to fight and fight hard as some very brave individuals, including a police officer, did last evening. Throwing any objects to hand at the assailant may buy you priceless seconds or indeed deter the attacker. Bar stools, chairs, tables in fact anything that can keep space between you and the assailant should be used, as indeed they have been in a number of well publicised attacks elsewhere. Self defence training is obviously a help. Most though will not have that training and will be scared. Easier said than done but if you can keep your head and commit then your life chances increase from zero to possible. In such an attack you are most likely to be cut, slashed or stabbed. It is critical that you do not lose the will to fight and survive at the first sight of blood. In a frenzy, the cuts are not likely to be fatal. Giving up is. If the emergency services get you to hospital alive you will most likely live. 

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If the bad guy has closed in on you do not attempt to grab the knife or machete. The grievous resulting wounds will likely incapacitate you. It is vital to get control of the assailants knife hand or arm. You may consider that getting right up close and personal, inside the arc of the arm, is safer than being at the tip of his weapon and opens up your options in using your heels, head and teeth. Remember, your aim is to survive and buy time until people can come to your aid. 

Citizen Aid App

Citizen Aid App

If you are cut or are with wounded souls then providing the attacker has left, apply first aid. Remember, the amount of blood is not correlated to the seriousness of the injury. It will very likely look much worse than it is. Most bleeding can be stopped with the application of pressure and elevation. An arterial wound, (spurting), must be treated immediately. A friend of mine died in just a few minutes from a small wound to the femoral artery after a bomb blast. Act and act fast. Learn how to make and apply an improvised tourniquet. Attending a first aid course is a good idea but at the minimum, please consider downloading the Citizen Aid app which contains advice on life saving first aid and is written by military and civilian trauma specialists.

In summary, nothing in life can prepare you for a frenzied knife attack. To do nothing is to die. If you can buy time, just seconds, it may save your life. The earlier you identify a threat the more time you will have; practice situation awareness. Be curious, be aware and trust your feelings. The most valuable thing you have, as any survival instructor will tell you, is the will to live. Have that and have it in spades and never, ever, ever give up.

Citizen Aid

I have written previously about the importance for the ordinary citizen going about their daily lives to maintain an appropriate level of  situational awareness  Most of us anyway do that without thinking. Driving though a country village, down a suburban residential street, when using an ATM or when a train is approaching a station platform, our awareness becomes elevated then drops when the road widens out, when we have our money or when we have boarded the train. From that point it is an easy jump for the average person to train themselves to lift and soften their 'situational awareness,' as the environment demands and to do so automatically. This is a good step forward in staying safe. 

Sometimes though, bad things just happen. How we react will depend on many, many factors and we can never ever know how we will respond under pressure until we are there, in the moment as it were. 

It is a good plan if moving as a family, or a couple, to have an emergency rendezvous point. That is, 'if we're separated for any reason, lets meet at that junction.' Not to complicate things too much but having a 2nd RV is also good thinking. That is, 'if for any reason we can't make the RV at the junction in the first hour, move to the 2nd RV,' (which should be a good distance back from the first, if not some miles). 

If, God forbid, you find yourself close to an incident, or involved in one, what then? 

If you are with family, your responsibility is clear; get them to safety. The choices here are not easy and are mostly down to individual decision making and despite what anyone may say, luck. Personally, I would avoid going underground in cities like London, I would avoid obvious exit points or public transport hubs like stations. I would avoid likely points for secondary explosions which for example, might be nearby supermarket car parks or similar spaces where the terrorist might make a reasonable assumption that the emergency services might place their incident control centres there. I would be wary of law enforcement or security officers on the ground, who will know not much more about the bigger picture than do you, blindly directing crowds to obvious meeting points. Beware falling glass from modern high rise buildings, (which will persist long after any explosion), and beware panicking citizens behind you.  

Senior British military & civilian medics, who created the app, are concerned that people caught up in terror attacks may not know how to respond in the immediate aftermath - when every second counts.  

What though, if you are caught in the midst of things. This is when you wish you had stayed at home to do some ironing while watching Question Time. But you didn't and no one has taught or trained you in what to do. First, stay safe. As I have previously described, there may be a secondary danger with, for example, a live shooter following a detonation of a loud bangy thing. When you are confident the threat has passed or been neutralised your duty is clear. Help the wounded. Easier said than done I know but help is at hand.

A group of civilian and military doctors have just released an App called Citizen Aid. It is a basic Go-To aide memoir for life saving first aid and it is written specifically for the bad situations we have discussed and aims to prevent avoidable deaths by informing us of life saving actions to take with casualties before the professionals appear. Think of it as St Johns first aid ++. 

Sir Keith Porter, professor of clinical traumatology at the University of Birmingham, is one of four clinicians behind the initiative.

He said: ‘I have treated hundreds of soldiers whose lives have been saved by the simple applications of tourniquets when they have been shot or blown up. Teaching individual soldiers these skills has saved lives. I think it is essential we train the public in those skills and that is exactly what CitizenAID does.’

Do please consider downloading the free App and of course, share the knowledge. It could save lives.

 

The Enemy Within

We have heard the 'Manchester Spirit,' quoted a great deal this week. I must admit, I'd never heard of it before. I last visited Manchester a couple of years ago. While there I wrote an irreverent and tongue-in-cheek blog post but decided not to publish it because it was somewhat disparaging about a place that I do have a degree of affection for. Here is an extract of what I wrote,.

"I spent a couple of days in Manchester, (pronounced "Manchest-Orr"), this week. Wednesday was apparently the hottest day of the year; it rained all day in Manchester. It is in fact many years since I last visited and the place if anything has become more glum than ever it previously was despite its attempts to sell itself as being “cool.”.

Manchester abounds with people who look either like Liam Gallagher or as if they have just walked out of a young offenders institution, (I think many have). The rest give the appearance first thing in the morning of having done half a row of optics in three pubs the night before and there is barely a flicker of enthusiasm anywhere except in the electric trams hurtling back and fore. An early near miss with the Eccles tram on Market Street in fact alerted me to this new urban threat..

I quickly picked up on the idiosyncrasies of the locals who mostly say "eye-yoh" instead of hello and "c-yoh lateoh" instead of goodbye.  An additional linguistic hindrance is the inability of the populous to pronounce the word car correctly, instead sounding like a deranged and demented parrot being put through a wringer. Most of the girls appear with the same hairstyles, the same clothes and many are rumoured to all have the same husband. Husband by the way is loosely defined as someone who is "avin-yoh" and who need not actually be married "2-yoh" to qualify for this role. Most Mancunians tend to like spending their annual holiday in places like "ayanap-oh" drinking lots of "larg-oh."  .

While there I bought a birthday present in Selfridges only to find on return home that the security tag was still in place. I suppose the shop assistants must not be in the habit of having to remove many. I wasn’t an early fan of the City Mayor idea but Boris has turned me. Manchester badly needs a personality to pull it together and help it rediscover it’s soul which is deeper and richer than the sum of a bunch of night clubs and the BBC, dragged kicking and screaming to Salford by the last government.".

How terrible then that a night of indescribable pain and suffering brought to bear on the most innocent of innocents by a barbaric murderer should be the catalyst for the deep and iridescent soul of the City to find itself and shine through. As was the case after the Arndale Centre bombing by the Provisionals, Manchester is more united and in a better place as a community but at a cost which is obviously not worth paying. The many acts of individual and collective kindness in the immediate aftermath, and since the tragedy, are a fine example of people pulling together in the worst of times. From taxi drivers to local residents and passers-by, hoteliers and business owners who threw their doors open to the distressed and disorientated, to the homeless man who rushed in to give first aid to casualties. All are Samaritans and an example to the rest of us. (I would not though, recommend removing nails, glass and shrapnel from the wounded as the well meaning homeless fellow did; just leave it there for skilled surgeons to deal with)..

This was the incident when our luck ran out. A 'big one,' has been expected for a long time, ever since 7/7 in fact. That it happened in Manchester, a city with the resources and skill-sets to deal with a major incident is better than it happening in, for example, a medium sized city or market town. The grievous casualty list  could have been worse had the perpetrator entered the arena itself. Instead, he detonated the device, or it accidentally detonated, in the waiting area, just before the security entry point. This is similar to the Brussels Airport bombing where the terrorists detonated the device in the soft area before security. This has implications for security planners and for the rest of us. At a minimum, we can expect further disruption, queues and waiting when entering any crowded events for the foreseeable future.

The challenge for the Security Services seems overwhelming. Some have been quick to criticise them this week but when we learn that five terror plots have been disrupted in just the last two months and that there are 500+ active investigations drawn from a pool of 3,000 suspects with a further 23,000+ 'subjects of interest,' the scale of the task at hand becomes clearer. When one considers it takes in excess of 20 operators to do covert surveillance properly on just one target the size of the challenge is self evident. Remember too that for some of our Security Service personnel their lives are at constant risk. They live and operate in the dark shadows to keep the rest of us safe. Most of their stories will never be told. Perhaps some stories will see the light in forty or fifty years time, (as was the case with Bletchley Park), but most secrets will stay secret. They do what they do out of a sense of duty and responsibility to do the right thing. Collectively, we ought to be just a little more appreciative and thankful for their service, sacrifice and courage.

Investigations will be following many strands but a priority will be to determine if the bomber manufactured the device himself or if there is a bomb maker on the loose. Making a bomb is not difficult. The ingredients for TATP for example, which was used in the 7/7, Brussels and Paris attacks, (and is rumoured to have been used in Manchester), are easily found in most household kitchens and ladies make-up bags. An electrical circuit, initiator and battery complete the package. The biggest hurdle for the would be terrorist is in making the decision to commit to the act. A separate specialist bomb maker however, is a game changer because it suggests that bomb making may evolve in sophistication. The good thing about DIY bombers blowing themselves up is that the evolution stops there. While acts of terror perpetrated by 'lone wolf,' individuals are difficult to predict, terrorist cells give the security services a slightly better opportunity to penetrate them. However, the numbers of jihadists out there are a concern given, if they ever got together in numbers, our problems would grow exponentially. In Belfast in the early seventies I wouldn't have thought there were not many more than 50 or 60 PIRA 'volunteers,' with perhaps 300 'runners,' behind them. At the height of the Troubles, they tied up 16,000 soldiers in Belfast alone.

So, where does this leave us?.

The incident was followed by a well worn and choreographed sequence of announcements, pronouncements and platitudes designed to arrest any sense of public panic and foreboding and to encourage us to be nice to one another whilst remaining alert for anything untoward or unusual happening around us. Given the aim of the terrorist is to murder and maim, to instil fear and to create divisions in society by their monstrous acts, the public script is fine in as far as it goes. I fear though, that as a society, we are some way from the moment of 'collective recognition,' when we become more demanding and questioning of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. .

If seventy-five of our young and unprotected citizens being shredded by high velocity 'shipyard confetti,' isn't a wake up call then it is worrying to think what kind of escalation will bring about a meaningful change in our efforts to confront home grown terrorists. Were it not so distressing for the families I sometimes think some of the images of the aftermath of a bombing should be published to bring some people to their senses. President Trump was eviscerated by social media when he introduced a travel ban to the US from some countries yet we allow the free movement of 'persons of interest,' between the Middle East and the UK. The Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, returned to the UK from Libya via Turkey just four days before the attack. TPIM's, (Prevention and Investigation Measures), should be strengthened and Control Orders, which were pushed back by the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in 2011 should be reinstated. Personally, I would drag Nick Clegg by the collar around all the mortuaries in Manchester and make him apologise to the families of the victims. 

The 'Prevent,' strategy also does not deserve all the criticism which has been thrown at it. It requires more resource and probably, some more imaginative and creative thinking but it is a start. The war against Jihadists will be with us for 100 years. We are in the early days of this conflict, at least domestically. As a society we by and large rub along together reasonably well given the enormity of change which has been forced upon the natural population in the last two generations. Certainly, we have problems but less so than some of our European neighbours who are seemingly culturally less well equipped to deal with the challenge. We are after all, despite what some may believe, something of a bastard nation in terms of our historical DNA.

Op Temperer, which saw soldiers deployed to release police officers for other duties was a not unreasonable thing to do for public reassurance and PR but nonetheless, leaves informed individuals with a slight sense of unease. There is no possible way that an armed 19 year old soldier will react with anything like the degree of professionalism, in the public domain, that one would expect from a trained police firearms officer, (many of whom are anyway, ex Army and are trained to a very specific and high degree of training for those very difficult environments and situations). That doesn't mean that soldiers cannot do the task. It means they have to be trained for it rather than for general warfare. In a previous post in 2015 I criticised the low numbers of available trained armed police officers. We need more. Here is what I suggested,

"The basis of national confidence in our response rests on 22 SAS. Even with a sub unit based in London though, they can’t be everywhere. Even if they could be within 45 mins of every town in England, 45 mins is too long in these situations. I think the Home Secretary and Chief Constables have no choice but to radically upgrade fire arms training and arming of police officers across the UK. To send an ordinary unarmed beat officer into one of these situations will have only one outcome. In mitigation, it is very difficult to acquire and move around automatic weapons in the UK. The police are very skilled at interdicting plots before they get to maturity and especially when working with GCHQ, 5 and 6 it is not easy for terrorists to plan and execute operations. It isn’t impossible though. Cuts in the numbers of police officers should be suspended immediately. Military support should not be considered by the COBRA committee after a bad thing happens but the committee should start planning on that basis now.

What does that mean? I would nominate two infantry battalions or Marine Commandos for Home Defence, one operational the other resting and training on 4 week rotations and rotate the battalions with others every 12 months. The operational battalion would be dispersed in platoon sized sub units across the UK, each with a serving or retired SAS or SBS instructor with a section on short notice to move 24 hrs a day. Their aim would be simple; in the event of a terrorist attack their task is to rapidly deploy and kill the terrorist. I would rebuild the old Northern Ireland ‘Tin City,’ to suit current scenarios, ie shopping malls, theatres, spaces for large groups and train both police and soldiers relentlessly. This is not a game, when this new enemy get in their stride the casualty list climbs by scores every minute. They do not negotiate. Speed and aggression are paramount. Our current intelligence and Special Forces based response is not commensurate with the threat. Many would recoil at the inclusion of military assets as part of normal support to the police but these are not normal times and this is no ordinary enemy. The safety and well-being of ordinary citizens is much more important that what column writers in the Guardian think. Anyone thinking that such a plan is excessive may wish to consider how we would deal with a four man fire group letting rip at the Metro Centre in Gateshead two weeks before Christmas. Thought so. I’d mostly be calling in the Commanding Officers for their briefings right now."

Street poets and liberals who think a declaration of love and some hugs are going to keep our children safe are misguided, delusional or are just barking mad. The bad people are amongst us and are intent on bringing us harm. We need to ramp up the resources we devote to anti terrorism and do so with the same unfettered determination which the US did with their creation of Homeland Security after 9/11. Any talk or debate with an air of 'we will not let them change our way of life,' is simply detached from reality. Here's a newsflash, life changed forever on Monday evening in Manchester. The quicker we get with the programme the fewer victims we will be burying. Moreover, and despite the efforts of the good people who stood up when they were needed on Monday, Manchester and it's new Mayor need to admit that the Manchester area is a key hub in the UK for Jihadist sympathisers and activists. It has a problem and it needs to first admit it, then deal with it.

AMERICAN PUBLIC INFORMATION FILM ON RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. THERE ARE MANY SUCH VIDEO'S AVAILABLE, MOSTLY FROM THE US. HERE IS ANOTHER, THIS TIME FROM LA WHERE I GUESS THEY HAVE HAD PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD.

Finally, for individuals going about their normal daily routine, I do think this old post , from which the clip above comes, about situational awareness and personal security is worth revisiting for those who have a care.

 

 

 



 

Election Data Point

So, ‘This Brexit thing has given me a direct motivation to get more involved in the politics.’ That'll help then.........

So, ‘This Brexit thing has given me a direct motivation to get more involved in the politics.’ That'll help then.........

The Bank Holiday weekend has delivered a welcome respite for most from the General Election campaign which actually, is delivering all that was expected with few surprises. The Conservatives are pitching the ‘strong and stable,’ script with tedious monotony and downplaying their strong lead lest the volatile electorate begin to sniff some trace of a sense of entitlement from them. Labour continue to veer off in so many directions it is difficult to keep up, especially so for the blundering idiot charged with leading them over the cliff which he will achieve with almost no effort at all, (although I’m convinced he won’t make it to the end of the campaign and suspect he’ll have a breakdown long before the end of May). The LibDems have got themselves in a right old tizzy with their leader, Tim Farron, (he’s the one that looks like a Spitting Image puppet thats been left in direct sunlight for too long), seemingly unsure of where he stands on the gay sex thing and he now tells us he’s ‘a bit of a Eurosceptic.’ Right on Timmy boy. All those supporters who knit their own clothes and cut their own hair will have been pulling it out in clumps over the weekend. The SNP meanwhile are still being mean about the English and deflecting criticism about education in Scotland like true Dodgeball champions while UKIP appear to have spontaneously combusted without many people having noticed. Across the main parties there is an unseemly rush to the exits with shouts of ‘Carpe Diem,’ from a raft of special political advisors and party apparatchiks, anxious to grab a safe seat from retiring members of Parliament and the political press can’t believe their luck that Westminster just keeps on giving with their workload brimming over with yet another election.

So far so good. 

There is change though. Some of it subtle enough to be missed, or ignored by the mainstream. The first concerns Corbyn, which I will deal with in this post. There has been a gentle hidden hand on the tiller attempting to alter the narrative where Corbyn's relationship with Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA is concerned. The historical canvas is being recoloured to suggest that during all the years that Corbyn was involved with, and supported PIRA, he did so in pursuit and attainment of peace. This is facile nonsense. Corbyn voted against the peace process and with it the Anglo Irish agreement. This is the man who hosted Sinn Fein in the Houses of Parliament just weeks after the Brighton bombing. The same man who was a mouthpiece for the Republican pressure group in the UK, Troops Out. Corbyn regularly attended and spoke at commemorations for terrorists in the eighties and was general secretary of the left wing publication Labour Briefing,’ which supported PIRA atrocities and backed the Brighton bombing which lets remind ourselves, killed five and maimed 31. While Corbyn was honouring dead PIRA terrorists, PIRA ‘prisoners of war,’ and the active ‘soldiers of the IRA,’ families across the United Kingdom were grieving for those men women and children murdered by the terrorist and those left with broken bodies and minds, civilian and military alike. Corbyn and his acolytes are being allowed to rewrite history and it stinks. This man wanted the IRA to win and to win at any cost. If he had been sincere in pursuing a peaceful outcome he would have supported not criticised John Hume and the SDLP. He did not though. Instead he supported the bad guys and moreover, supported a continuance of extreme violence. 

DUP MP Nigel Dodds attacks Jeremy Corbyn, and Shadow Chancellor (John McDonnell) who in the past has called for IRA terrorists to be 'honoured' Notice the silence and glum expressions from the Labour benches after the question is asked.

The difficult truth for Corbyn is that the Provisionals lost. They were forced to negotiate when they realised they their organisation was riddled from top to bottom by British security intelligence and the cost of continuing was unsustainable. Even when the peace process was gaining traction Corbyn and John McDonnell could not bring themselves to support it. Corbyn in fact was a very long way from helping any successful outcome and over the years made a contribution to prolonging the conflict. 

The Manchester bombing in 1996; 3,500 lbs of Semtex and ammonium nitrate in an area where 80,000 people worked or were shopping.

The Manchester bombing in 1996; 3,500 lbs of Semtex and ammonium nitrate in an area where 80,000 people worked or were shopping.

Certainly, as far as I am concerned the concept of anyone voting for a man who supported people who would have liked nothing better than to give me or any one of my friends a headshot or blow us to bits all over the nearest three villages is total anathema. To my mind, anyone who does is spitting on the grave of all those who suffered at the hands of the terrorist and is disrespecting their memory. So too, are those who choose not to report the truth.

Stay Safe (2)

The rolling Mandelification of Martin McGuiness, a man directly responsible for at least 200 murders, came to a juddering halt with the attack at Westminster on Wednesday by Khalid Masood. In my day it was bombs and bullets, now it's a kitchen knife and bad driving. There isn't much to cling to in the 'it could have been worse,' department when we have dead and wounded in double figures but actually, it could have been. The weather in London was pretty damp on Wednesday and the bridge could have been very much more crowded with tourists as is usually the case. That the terrorist attacked the most heavily armed part of London is also a bonus. I don't need to articulate the alternatives.

The attack came as a surprise to no one. Well, no one except the BBC who fail to understand that while the deaths are a tragedy for those concerned, in the minds of the perpetrators the BBC's blanket coverage completely justifies their actions. An absence of detached proportionality is unhelpful in the defence of the public and the sight and sound of multiple reporters maximising their air-time and seemingly vying for reporter-of-the-year award has been somewhat distasteful. I suppose that is what we get with the monster that is 24 hour news.

Then, the well-practised government machine rumbled into view and I was reassured to see the Acting Deputy Commissioner on the steps of New Scotland Yard telling us that there is no cause for alarm. In doing so he was echoing the words of the old head of the Anti Terrorist Squad, Commander Churchill-Coleman who always used to say, 'there is no cause for alarm,’ usually as he was standing in front of half a London postcode that had recently been removed from the map by a PIRA bomb. As is normal routine, this was followed by the Prime Minister giving us her ‘we will not allow our way of life to be changed by the terrorists.’ That is what Prime Ministers do. Then, the Mayor of London told us that Londoners will carry on as usual. Let me tell you son, Londoners don’t have a choice. 

Police Officer and fellow ex Gunner Keith Palmer; murdered.

Police Officer and fellow ex Gunner Keith Palmer; murdered.

The truth is, the people offering us the free advice to not be alarmed and not to worry will very much have their own lives changed with elevated personal security. Another truth is that there are some very bad people out there who, given the opportunity, will happily ruin your day with the maximum violence on the maximum number of people they can bring to bear. The threat manifests itself in many different ways. Earlier in the week the Met warned financial institutions that following  the delivery of two explosive packages to European financial institutions another intended for a British financial institution was intercepted. The mantra from the Met is ‘be alert, not alarmed.’ This brings us to the subject which I have covered many times before of ‘situational awareness.’ Here is a reminder with a piece I wrote in April last year after the Brussels airport incident,

It is an unfortunate fact that a terrorist attack in the UK is inevitable. While our security and intelligence services do good work in keeping us safe, as the Provisionals used say, 'we only have to be lucky once.' 

The attack may come in various shapes and forms from a random and impulsive ‘lone wolf’ attack to organised and coordinated attacks on multiple targets. Moreover, the threat is constantly evolving. We can expect constant improvisation and innovation from the terrorist in both method and design. Technical advances, miniaturisation and advances in chemical engineering among others will all eventually be reflected in the terrorists arsenal. 

While the probability of being caught up in any of these incidents is remote, advice for innocents caught up in incidents, and the ensuing melee’, is sparse. Jihadists present a fractured and complex threat across the European mainland, holiday destinations and within the UK. They are committed, in many cases well trained and as evidenced in the Brussels attack, they have a good bomb-maker. The tradecraft of the Brussels attackers though was sloppy and unrefined reflecting the fact that the terror threat doesn’t come in a neat, one profile package. Here then are my thoughts on different scenarios

COL. JEFF COOPER WAS A LEGEND IN THE US SHOOTING AND SELF-DEFENCE WORLD. IN ADDITION TO BEING INSTRUMENTAL IN REFININGAND POPULARISING MANY MODERN PISTOL AND SELF-DEFENCE TECHNIQUES HE BELIEVED, IMPORTANTLY, THAT THE MIND WAS THE BEST SURVIVAL TOOL.

COL. JEFF COOPER WAS A LEGEND IN THE US SHOOTING AND SELF-DEFENCE WORLD. IN ADDITION TO BEING INSTRUMENTAL IN REFININGAND POPULARISING MANY MODERN PISTOL AND SELF-DEFENCE TECHNIQUES HE BELIEVED, IMPORTANTLY, THAT THE MIND WAS THE BEST SURVIVAL TOOL.

Bang!

For individuals caught up in an incident the reason why will matter least. The instinct of survival should have primacy but that is often not the case. Most citizens take a ‘well, if it’s got my name on it…’ fatalistic approach to the prospect of a bad thing happening. They feel events are anyway beyond their control and there is little one person can do. Moreover, in the aftermath of an incident, especially one involving an IED, people are disorientated and shocked leaving many unable to grasp what has happened, far less grip their own vulnerability and seek a route to hiding or safety. This is true of trained individuals and ordinary folk. Bombs are violent, bloody and indiscriminate instruments of war. They create fear through destruction and after the short silence, mayhem ensues. There are however, steps that the ordinary decent public can take to mitigate some of the risk. In the first instance, much depends on luck. There isn’t much anyone can do if you are standing a few metres away from the seat of an explosion but let’s take things one step at a time and look at how we can employ our own situational awareness to increase our chance of survival before, during and after an incident.

Don’t Be A Victim

Taking the fatalistic approach to life may seem to fulfil what is expected of ourselves as Britons displaying a 'business as usual,' phlegmatic approach to life. Indeed, various governments play the same record after every incident, ’This will not change our way of life.’ Well, mine changed as soon as the Provisionals started bombing the Mainland back in the Seventies.. Having the right mindset is critical. Denial, ignorance and complacency are no defence against nail packed semtex packages. Acceptance of the threat is the first step in not becoming a victim. Don't live in a bubble.

Most people exercise situation awareness whether they recognise it as a valuable tool or not. Walking down a dark street at night for example will inevitably create a state of heightened sensory awareness of everything around. While we can’t replicate that same heightened state of awareness throughout the day, (it would simply be exhausting), there is a reasonable medium whereby you are alert to your surroundings. US law enforcement frequently use a system called Coopers colours to describe the five common levels of situational awareness. For ‘awareness,’ read ‘alertness.’

In condition White you are relaxed, tuned out and unaware of events around you. Unaware equals unprepared. The kind of constant vegetative state that many urban dwellers seek refuge in; hood up, plugged in to music, eyes down. People who are 100% dependent on luck for survival; people happy to become statistics, in an ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that this is happening to me,’ way.

In condition Yellow you are relaxed but aware of what is around you. You are paying attention to activities and sounds around you. You will be in a state where you will not be completely surprised and will be taking normal precautions. You may be running ‘what if,’ scenarios in your mind and have pre planned exits in mind. (This is a dynamic process. For example, when driving down a suburban residential street you probably already say to yourself, ‘the car in front may turn right,’ or 'that child ahead may run into the road,’ and be prepared to brake. That is typical of condition Yellow action). This is the minimum mindset everyone should adopt, especially when in unfamiliar surroundings, in crowds or when with people not known to you.

In condition Orange you are more focused and may have identified a potential threat. Someone following you, for example an unruly bunch of NEDS approaching or something more sinister. If a bad thing happens in condition Orange you should be expecting it and not be surprised. You will have a definite plan of action and escape routes in mind. The driving analogy here might be driving in icy or foggy conditions when you are totally focused and ignore any distractions outside keeping the car safely on the road.

In condition Red the threat identified in Orange becomes real and triggers action, be it flight, fight or hide.

There are some points to note about these different levels of situational awareness. The first is that people cannot operate in a heightened state of alertness for prolonged periods. It is tiring and induces stress which is unhealthy. People should simply practice being in a constant state of relaxed awareness and be prepared to elevate that alertness for brief periods as required. Adopting a minimum level of awareness will anyway, lead to the avoidance of many situations that could otherwise escalate. This process is simply introducing some rigour into what will come naturally to most people anyway but usually in situations they are already familiar with such as driving, watching young toddlers play, using an ATM and even Christmas shopping. You can practice your situational awareness skills easily and at will. Examples include checking exits whenever you walk into buildings, always leaving a gap between you and the car in front when in waiting traffic, watching vehicles in your rear view mirror to see if any are taking the same turns and start people watching. Look at people and work out where they might be from, their education, distinguishing marks, what kind of mood they are in, what their life story is. Observation can be practiced and honed until it becomes intuitive. The British excel at this game. Note our obsession with shoes from which we can derive a massive amount of instinctive background information. This process of seeing, and interpreting, rather than just looking soon embeds itself into the subconscious and becomes part of one’s natural state.

Understand Your Environment

Clearly, you are more vulnerable to attack either individually or as part of a crowd in some environments than in others. Travel to many countries necessitates a heightened state of awareness as indeed a visit to a major attraction in London does when compared to a visit to a village flower show. On a micro level however alertness can often prevent a bad thing happening or increase the observer’s probability of survival if it does. Criminals and terrorists have a significant advantage because they have surprise. That advantage is magnified if the victims freeze rather than react. The bad people though will often plan and reconnoiter their attack. Suspicious activity makes the terrorist vulnerable and they are not very good at camouflaging their behaviour when either marking potential targets or in the run up to an attack. They will be edgy and their adrenaline will be pumping. This is why some take drugs before an attack to dampen the natural response of their bodies to stress. Many adopt an intense stare before an attack. Wearing unseasonal clothing, suspicious bulges under the clothes, unnatural perspiration, avoiding eye contact, mumbling and fidgeting, using hand signals with other perhaps unsighted individuals are all give away signs. A citizen identifying out of character suspicious behaviour will tend not to want to make a fuss. Make a fuss. Better to suffer the embarrassment of a false alarm than to be a quadriplegic for life

As a young soldier I recall attending a lecture and demonstration of let’s call them ‘sneaky IED’s.’ These would be devices hidden in lamp posts, telephone boxes, gate posts, window boxes and so on. I asked the instructor, who had entertained us with some very impressive bangs, how we might know if one lamp post out of the hundreds we walked past on patrol in Belfast every day might have an IED inside it. He said, ‘the hairs on the back of your neck will stand up.’ What did he mean? Every day, in going about your normal business, your mind processes everything it sees and hears. It might be in the home, the journey to work, in the workplace or place of leisure, your brain is expecting every detail and matches it to what has gone before. It isn’t something that you consciously think about but sometimes, there might be something out of place. A person, an object or things happening in the wrong sequence and while it may not trigger a conscious thought or response you get, ‘a feeling.’ That ‘something isn’t quite right,’ feeling is the ‘hairs on the back of your neck rising.’ Don’t ever, ever ignore it. It may be something unthreatening, something completely trivial and innocent but something has changed and your mind is warning you that something is different.

Depending on the study, brain scientists tell us that our conscious mind processes 40-126 chunks of information per second. Our unconscious mind, on the other hand, is processing upwards of 12 million chunks of information per second. If you’re consciously trying to continually evaluate your environment for threats in addition to actually engaging in conversation with other people, the conscious mind just doesn’t have the bandwidth to do both well and it puts a considerable amount of stress on the mind.

But, if you give the mind the tools it needs to unconsciously identify and rank dangers and threats it can work in the background while your conscious mind is fully engaged with people around you.

AN INFORMATION FILM, MADE BY THE POLICE, WHICH IS FULL OF GOOD ADVICE AND EXPOUSES THE BRITISH APPROACH OF 'RUN, HIDE, TELL.'

Action!

If a bad thing happens and you are caught up in a terrorist attack the first and obvious thing to do is dart to the nearest cover and quickly ascertain where the threat lies. You must determine where the terrorist or terrorists are less you run blindly into the danger, or killing zone. Gunfire in built up areas for example is notorious for being difficult to pinpoint because of the echoing around buildings. 

Shooter

If the attack is a live shooter or shooters do not panic or give up. You have a good chance of escape to safety if you keep your head. Knowledge dispels fear. Here is the knowledge. 

In most cases active shooters are not well trained and as explained earlier, will be 'pumped up,' with adrenaline flowing and very possibly, under some kind of intoxication. Most casualties are shot at close range. Our aim is obviously to increase that range. Using the acronym MDACC which represents, Motion, Distance, Angle, Cover & Concealment we have all we need to exponentially increase our survival rate. Forget everything you have seen in movies. It is very difficult to hit a moving target, even for trained soldiers and law enforcement professionals. The average target presented to soldiers in Northern Ireland was a moving target with a 3 second exposure. Very few such targets were hit. 

Most tactical shootings happen at distances of less than seven meters. Few people can consistently hit a stationary target beyond 25 meters with a handgun, much less a moving target. Most people can put 25 meters between themselves and an attacker in just a few seconds, so motion and distance improve a target's chances of escape. Think and move. If in doubt, seek sanctuary, secure it and protect yourself as best you are able. Then, prepare to fight.

CONVERSATION ON ACTIVE SHOOTER SCENARIO FROM STRATFOR.

The angle at which a target runs away is also important because shooting a target that is moving straight away is easier than shooting a target running away at an angle, since the second scenario would require the shooter to swing the barrel of the weapon and lead the target, a difficult task even for an experienced marksman. Both require practice, even with a rifle or shotgun. If the target can run at an angle behind objects like trees, cars, office furniture or walls that obstruct the shooter's view of the target (concealment) or stop bullets (cover), that is even more effective. Think and run.

It is important to distinguish between concealment and cover. Items that provide concealment, such as a bush or tree leaves, can hide a target from the shooter's line of vision but will not protect them from bullets the way a substantial tree trunk will. Likewise, in an office setting, a typical drywall-construction interior wall can provide concealment but not cover, meaning a shooter will still be able to fire through the walls and door. Similarly, a car door or the boot doesn't afford the same protection as does the bonnet with the engine block inside. Still, if the shooter cannot see his or her target, they will be firing blindly rather than aiming their weapon, reducing the probability of hitting a target.

In any case, those hiding inside a room should attempt to find some sort of additional cover, such as a filing cabinet or heavy desk. It is always better to find cover than concealment, but even partial cover,  something that will only deflect or fragment the projectiles, is preferable to no cover at all.

Bomb

Let's not mince our words here; bombs are a bastard. When a device is detonated all hell breaks loose. If you are in line of sight of the device then you are at risk from the shockwave, fragments and debris. Distance is the best defence. The blast from even a small device will be magnified inside a building. There will be a shockwave which will damage everything in its path, (including your internal organs), fire, heat, noise and steel and glass fragments travelling at high velocity. If you are some distance from the explosion and are not medically trained leave the area immediately helping the infirm or children as you are able. Do not loiter to take photographs, make telephone calls or seek comfort from strangers. Avoid obvious meeting points such as squares and precincts and avoid crowds. There may be secondary devices planted at such locations. 

If you are closer to the blast, and survive, switch on. It is easier said than done given you may suddenly be deaf and shaken beyond any previous experience. Live shooters may be on the loose. Seek cover if you are able and remember, you are at risk from falling shards of glass from buildings for a long time after the explosion. 

AMERICAN PUBLIC INFORMATION FILM ON RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. THERE ARE MANY SUCH VIDEO'S AVAILABLE, MOSTLY FROM THE US. HERE IS ANOTHER, THIS TIME FROM LA WHERE I GUESS THEY HAVE HAD PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD.

Wounded

If you are wounded it's not game over. The body will not give up and cease functioning but the mind is likely to. Escape out of the line of fire is doable if you want it to be. As with every survival situation, the will to survive is everything. Most people do freeze and go into shock which allows the shooter the opportunity to let loose with a close range killer shot. When shot apply an improvised pressure bandage using anything to hand to both the entry and exit wound if there is one which won't always be in line with the entry wound. If you are shot and get to a hospital alive you will probably live, such is the excellence of trauma care these days.

Fight

Advice from British law enforcement backs off from fighting the terrorist. Not so in America, as we might expect, where they promulgate the Run, Hide, Fight approach. I favour this. Be under no illusion, if you are cornered and your life is in danger, as a last resort only sudden maximum violence on or at your attacker using any improvised weapons to hand will keep you alive. 

RUN and escape, if possible.

  • If safe to do so, use an accessible path.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Keep your hands visible.

HIDE, if escape is not possible.

  • If you are in an office, stay there and lock or barricade the door.
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.
  • Close, cover, and move away from windows.
  • Your hiding place should be out of the shooter's view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
  • Remain quiet with all sources of noise silenced.

FIGHT as an absolute last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger. DO NOT seek out the shooter. 

  • Attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter.
  • Act as aggressively as possible against him/her.
  • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter.
  • Throw items and improvise weapons.
  • Yell.
  • Commit to your actions.

Law Enforcement

Don't expect too much from law enforcement officers arriving on the scene. If caught up in the initial incident they themselves will have adrenaline pumping and may also be shocked. Be wary of first response directions issued under pressure by disorientated officers which may also send you into harms way. When armed officers arrive do exactly what they say. Make no sudden movements and do not approach them in haste or you might get an unwelcome response. They will be extremely keyed up. Mistakes can happen. Avoid shouting, gesturing and pointing and keep your hands where they can be seen. You may be roughly treated by first responding officers. Their priority is to neutralise the threat. They may push you down for your own safety or may treat you as a suspect until otherwise proven. Suck it up and do as you are told. Also, paramedics and doctors arriving will seek out the badly injured first. If they don't come to you think of it as good news. Wait your turn if wounded and rely on self help. They will get to you. After reaching a place of safety identify yourself to the police as a witness. If waiting try to recall the sequence of events and take notes in as much detail as you can remember where possible.

Urban Zombies

There is a modern trend which seems to be almost hard coded in the mind of the urban dweller to reach for a smart phone and either start recording any incident that takes place in his or her vicinity or to telephone a loved one. As an immediate action following an incident both are stupid and both are selfish. 

Taking photographs or footage of injured people, rather than helping them, is callous. It is also dangerous. Current popular tradecraft among Jihadists points to them detonating an IED then switching to a 'live shooter,' attack to kill the confused and disorientated civilians around them, or, they open fire then detonate. Indeed, shots were heard before the Brussels airport devices detonated and what was left of an AK 47 later recovered. 

Survival for those in the midst of the mayhem is absolutely dependant on their will to survive and their ability to quickly gather their wits to a heightened state of situational awareness and take action. Taking pictures or telling your Mum you're OK is all a bit pointless if you are about to take a couple of 7.62mm rounds to the chest. 

For the injured and dying words fail me of how they must feel when fellow travellers start snapping away. If I end up lying on the pavement in Piccadilly with my legs in bits all over Regent Street I'll be more than a little animated if I found myself full frame on someone's iPhone 6s. Perhaps we need a Good Samaritan or Duty to Act law which enshrine a duty of action and legal protection in doing so in law. Unfortunately, in these extreme situations such Act's would not be reasonable given many of the people reaching for their iPhones are doing so while in a state of shock and are themselves reaching out for comfort and security by the only means known to them. iPhones don't stop bullets though. 

Simple actions that could immediately be taken by the Home Office would be to prevent individuals generating money from opportunistic photographs and to heavily fine news agencies that solicit, (often while events are in progress) and pay for such pictures and footage. Perhaps too it is time for the return of the Public Information Film instructing citizens of 'actions to take in the event of a terrorist incident.' The Government does a good job in calming a sense of elevated fear and keeping 'business as usual,' but the hard fact is that it is only a matter of time before the terrorist strikes again on home soil.

Most of all, those Urban Zombies who wander around town with white ears buds stuck in their ears oblivious to all around them and reach for their smart phone when a bad thing happens are likely to discover that its a fast track route to being a dead Urban Zombie.

Summary

No one except the terrorist wants us to swap a normal way of life for paranoia and fear. That however, does not preclude accepting and understanding that risk exists and some simple steps to elevate our personal situational awareness can help mitigate that risk. Adopting the right mindset which is appropriate to your environment and being ready and able to elevate your preparedness and then react vigorously if a situation develops will all contribute to enhanced survivability. Finally, bloody minded determination and aggression will see you through the darkness should you be embroiled in an incident. Do not ever, give up. That's the point when the bastards have won. 

Finally, if it is all too dramatic for you and you had rather not bother my departing advice is move to Glasgow. They've got it taped up there (starts 1:13).
 

Nice; No Simple Answers

The events in Nice last night have triggered another unwanted replay of saturation disaster news coverage and waves of dread pulsing through families and friends with loved ones in the South of France. Anyone who has been to Nice has strolled down the Promenade des Anglais and it is familiar to many across the world. This being the third major terrorist event in eighteen months the French could be forgiven for suffering from emotional exhaustion. France though is a mature democracy with broad shoulders and they will get through the trauma. The tragic fact is however, it is unlikely to be the last such event.

We do not yet know for certain that the Nice attack was perpetrated by an Islamic terrorist. The French Tunisian individual identified as the driver may have been mentally ill, high on drugs or hell bent on revenge for some perceived or actual sleight. Perhaps a combination of two or all of those factors may become apparent. Apart from petty crime the perpetrator had not been flagged as a radical and was unknown to security services.

As we are aware, so called ‘Lone Wolves,’ or ‘Stray Dogs,’ present security forces with very specific difficulties. They are often solitary and withdrawn individuals, frequently without ideological motivation, which makes identification through profiling difficult and clearly infiltration of potential targets, because of their singularity, is a non-starter. Given many are mentally ill they often come to the attention of the police and or health professionals prior to major incidents but that is very large haystack for security professionals to trawl through and monitor in order to identify the very few individuals who may then advance to mass murder.

Much will again be made of solitary attackers in the coming days and the threat will remain persistent. I have discussed them before but have avoided listing specific threats lest I unintentionally present some lunatic with a script. The threat however to the well-being of ordinary decent citizens goes beyond the Lone Wolf because the general terror threat is embedded in the EU.

The proximity of North Africa and Turkey to Europe, centuries of trade and colonialisation and waves of immigrants seeking work, education and advancement over generations has resulted in large numbers of Muslims living in Europe. Although some are fourth or even fifth generation immigrants many have not integrated and live in isolated Muslim dominated communities. For example, Matthew Levitt, the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, noted in a recent Politico article that only eight of the 114 imams in Brussels speak any of Belgium's traditional languages.

The backdrop is not helped by the weak European economy which has impacted the Muslim population disproportionately and while the unemployment rate for young males on the Continent is very high, (ex Germany), the numbers for young Muslims should be a source of alarm. Alienation through economic disenfranchisement and an absence of any kind of mandatory assimilation through benefits-for-work type schemes provide the purveyors of violence rich pickings with which to pollute, twist and control minds. To combat radicalisation all European countries must accept that they must do more than ‘round up the usual suspects,’ and put soldiers on the streets in a show of force after major incidents. They must meet the extreme violence of terror with radical social and economic reengineering in order to drain the pond. Without confronting the worst truths of these societies the outlook will remain at it's bleakest.

The political impact of terrorism in France will gain momentum with an inevitable uplift for the right wing National Front and the centre right Republicans in next April’s elections. Both are critical of Schengen and the demand for greater national control of borders is anyway growing across Europe both because of terrorism and migration. It is also inevitable that the French will reach out for more support in their foreign anti Jihadist operations but are likely to receive a subdued response from other European nations who lack the will, the budgets and the expertise to field expeditionary forces.

They can hope though for renewed efforts in intelligence and information sharing but many countries in Europe are themselves hampered by their own fragmented security and intelligence structures not to mention entrenched privacy laws.

For individuals, the advice remains the same. Forget all that ‘business as usual; our lives will not be affected,’ hogwash from politicians who know no better. We live in an environment of elevated risk from multiple threats and citizens should adopt a poise of situational awareness wherever they are. That doesn’t mean constantly living on edge. It simply means being aware of ones surroundings and events. That is, tune in, never tune out. Always have the basis of an escape and action plan and remember, an air of superior laissez-faire indifference is no defence against 7.62mm rounds and flying glass. You can read more here in Stay Safe.

Stay Safe

It is an unfortunate fact that a terrorist attack in the UK is inevitable. While our security and intelligence services do good work in keeping us safe, as the provisionals used say, 'we only have to be lucky once.' 

The attack may come in various shapes and forms from a random and impulsive ‘lone wolf’ attack to organised and coordinated attacks on multiple targets. Moreover, the threat is constantly evolving. We can expect constant improvisation and innovation from the terrorist in both method and design. Technical advances, miniaturisation and advances in chemical engineering among others will all eventually be reflected in the terrorists arsenal. 

While the probability of being caught up in any of these incidents is remote, advice for innocents caught up in incidents, and the ensuing melee’, is sparse. Jihadists present a fractured and complex threat across the European mainland, holiday destinations and within the UK. They are committed, in many cases well trained and as evidenced in the Brussels attack, they have a good bomb-maker. The tradecraft of the Brussels attackers though was sloppy and unrefined reflecting the fact that the terror threat doesn’t come in a neat, one profile package. Here then are my thoughts on different scenarios

Bang!

For individuals caught up in an incident the reason why will matter least. The instinct of survival should have primacy but that is often not the case. Most citizens take a ‘well, if it’s got my name on it…’ fatalistic approach to the prospect of a bad thing happening. They feel events are anyway beyond their control and there is little one person can do. Moreover, in the aftermath of an incident, especially one involving an IED, people are disorientated and shocked leaving many unable to grasp what has happened, far less grip their own vulnerability and seek a route to hiding or safety. This is true of trained individuals and ordinary folk. Bombs are violent, bloody and indiscriminate instruments of war. They create fear through destruction and after the short silence, mayhem ensues. There are however, steps that the ordinary decent public can take to mitigate some of the risk. In the first instance, much depends on luck. There isn’t much anyone can do if you are standing a few metres away from the seat of an explosion but let’s take things one step at a time and look at how we can employ our own situational awareness to increase our chance of survival before, during and after an incident.

Don’t Be A Victim

Taking the fatalistic approach to life may seem to fulfil what is expected of ourselves as Britons displaying a 'business as usual,' phlegmatic approach to life. Indeed, various governments play the same record after every incident, ’This will not change our way of life.’ Well, mine changed as soon as the Provisionals started bombing the Mainland back in the Seventies.. Having the right mindset is critical. Denial, ignorance and complacency are no defence against nail packed semtex packages. Acceptance of the threat is the first step in not becoming a victim. Don't live in a bubble.

Col. Jeff Cooper was a legend in the US shooting and self-defence world. In addition to being instrumental in refining and popularising many modern pistol and self-defence techniques he believed, importantly, that the mind was the best survival tool.

Most people exercise situation awareness whether they recognise it as a valuable tool or not. Walking down a dark street at night for example will inevitably create a state of heightened sensory awareness of everything around. While we can’t replicate that same heightened state of awareness throughout the day, (it would simply be exhausting), there is a reasonable medium whereby you are alert to your surroundings. US law enforcement frequently use a system called Coopers colours to describe the five common levels of situational awareness. For ‘awareness,’ read ‘alertness.’

In condition White you are relaxed, tuned out and unaware of events around you. Unaware equals unprepared. The kind of constant vegetative state that many urban dwellers seek refuge in; hood up, plugged in to music, eyes down. People who are 100% dependent on luck for survival; people happy to become statistics, in an ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that this is happening to me,’ way.

In condition Yellow you are relaxed but aware of what is around you. You are paying attention to activities and sounds around you. You will be in a state where you will not be completely surprised and will be taking normal precautions. You may be running ‘what if,’ scenarios in your mind and have pre planned exits in mind. (This is a dynamic process. For example, when driving down a suburban residential street you probably already say to yourself, ‘the car in front may turn right,’ or 'that child ahead may run into the road,’ and be prepared to brake. That is typical of condition Yellow action). This is the minimum mindset everyone should adopt, especially when in unfamiliar surroundings, in crowds or when with people not known to you.

In condition Orange you are more focused and may have identified a potential threat. Someone following you, for example an unruly bunch of NEDS approaching or something more sinister. If a bad thing happens in condition Orange you should be expecting it and not be surprised. You will have a definite plan of action and escape routes in mind. The driving analogy here might be driving in icy or foggy conditions when you are totally focused and ignore any distractions outside keeping the car safely on the road.

In condition Red the threat identified in Orange becomes real and triggers action, be it flight, fight or hide.

I always carry a high powered mini torch, an assault pen with a glass breaking tool, some paracord, a small robust penknife and a field dressing when in the city or travelling. It may not save me but they give me a sense that I am in part in control of my own destiny.

There are some points to note about these different levels of situational awareness. The first is that people cannot operate in a heightened state of alertness for prolonged periods. It is tiring and induces stress which is unhealthy. People should simply practice being in a constant state of relaxed awareness and be prepared to elevate that alertness for brief periods as required. Adopting a minimum level of awareness will anyway, lead to the avoidance of many situations that could otherwise escalate. This process is simply introducing some rigour into what will come naturally to most people anyway but usually in situations they are already familiar with such as driving, watching young toddlers play, using an ATM and even Christmas shopping. You can practice your situational awareness skills easily and at will. Examples include checking exits whenever you walk into buildings, always leaving a gap between you and the car in front when in waiting traffic, watching vehicles in your rear view mirror to see if any are taking the same turns and start people watching. Look at people and work out where they might be from, their education, distinguishing marks, what kind of mood they are in, what their life story is. Observation can be practiced and honed until it becomes intuitive. The British excel at this game. Note our obsession with shoes from which we can derive a massive amount of instinctive background information. This process of seeing, and interpreting, rather than just looking soon embeds itself into the subconscious and becomes part of one’s natural state.

Understand Your Environment

Clearly, you are more vulnerable to attack either individually or as part of a crowd in some environments than in others. Travel to many countries necessitates a heightened state of awareness as indeed a visit to a major attraction in London does when compared to a visit to a village flower show. On a micro level however alertness can often prevent a bad thing happening or increase the observer’s probability of survival if it does. Criminals and terrorists have a significant advantage because they have surprise. That advantage is magnified if the victims freeze rather than react. The bad people though will often plan and reconnoiter their attack. Suspicious activity makes the terrorist vulnerable and they are not very good at camouflaging their behaviour when either marking potential targets or in the run up to an attack. They will be edgy and their adrenaline will be pumping. This is why some take drugs before an attack to dampen the natural response of their bodies to stress. Many adopt an intense stare before an attack. Wearing unseasonal clothing, suspicious bulges under the clothes, unnatural perspiration, avoiding eye contact, mumbling and fidgeting, using hand signals with other perhaps unsighted individuals are all give away signs. A citizen identifying out of character suspicious behaviour will tend not to want to make a fuss. Make a fuss. Better to suffer the embarrassment of a false alarm than to be a quadriplegic for life.

As a young soldier I recall attending a lecture and demonstration of let’s call them ‘sneaky IED’s.’ These would be devices hidden in lamp posts, telephone boxes, gate posts, window boxes and so on. I asked the instructor, who had entertained us with some very impressive bangs, how we might know if one lamp post out of the hundreds we walked past on patrol in Belfast every day might have an IED inside it. He said, ‘the hairs on the back of your neck will stand up.’ What did he mean? Every day, in going about your normal business, your mind processes everything it sees and hears. It might be in the home, the journey to work, in the workplace or place of leisure, your brain is expecting every detail and matches it to what has gone before. It isn’t something that you consciously think about but sometimes, there might be something out of place. A person, an object or things happening in the wrong sequence and while it may not trigger a conscious thought or response you get, ‘a feeling.’ That ‘something isn’t quite right,’ feeling is the ‘hairs on the back of your neck rising.’ Don’t ever, ever ignore it. It may be something unthreatening, something completely trivial and innocent but something has changed and your mind is warning you that something is different.

Depending on the study, brain scientists tell us that our conscious mind processes 40-126 chunks of information per second. Our unconscious mind, on the other hand, is processing upwards of 12 million chunks of information per second. If you’re consciously trying to continually evaluate your environment for threats in addition to actually engaging in conversation with other people, the conscious mind just doesn’t have the bandwidth to do both well and it puts a considerable amount of stress on the mind.

But, if you give the mind the tools it needs to unconsciously identify and rank dangers and threats it can work in the background while your conscious mind is fully engaged with people around you.

An information film, made by the police, which is full of good advice and expouses the British approach of 'Run, Hide, Tell.'

Action!

If a bad thing happens and you are caught up in a terrorist attack the first and obvious thing to do is dart to the nearest cover and quickly ascertain where the threat lies. You must determine where the terrorist or terrorists are less you run blindly into the danger, or killing zone. Gunfire in built up areas for example is notorious for being difficult to pinpoint because of the echoing around buildings. 

Shooter

If the attack is a live shooter or shooters do not panic or give up. You have a good chance of escape to safety if you keep your head. Knowledge dispels fear. Here is the knowledge. 

In most cases active shooters are not well trained and as explained earlier, will be 'pumped up,' with adrenaline flowing and very possibly, under some kind of intoxication. Most casualties are shot at close range. Our aim is obviously to increase that range. Using the acronym MDACC which represents, Motion, Distance, Angle, Cover & Concealment we have all we need to exponentially increase our survival rate. Forget everything you have seen in movies. It is very difficult to hit a moving target, even for trained soldiers and law enforcement professionals. The average target presented to soldiers in Northern Ireland was a moving target with a 3 second exposure. Very few such targets were hit. 

Most tactical shootings happen at distances of less than seven meters. Few people can consistently hit a stationary target beyond 25 meters with a handgun, much less a moving target. Most people can put 25 meters between themselves and an attacker in just a few seconds, so motion and distance improve a target's chances of escape. Think and move. If in doubt, seek sanctuary, secure it and protect yourself as best you are able. Then, prepare to fight.

Conversation on active shooter scenario from Stratfor.

The angle at which a target runs away is also important because shooting a target that is moving straight away is easier than shooting a target running away at an angle, since the second scenario would require the shooter to swing the barrel of the weapon and lead the target, a difficult task even for an experienced marksman. Both require practice, even with a rifle or shotgun. If the target can run at an angle behind objects like trees, cars, office furniture or walls that obstruct the shooter's view of the target (concealment) or stop bullets (cover), that is even more effective. Think and run.

It is important to distinguish between concealment and cover. Items that provide concealment, such as a bush or tree leaves, can hide a target from the shooter's line of vision but will not protect them from bullets the way a substantial tree trunk will. Likewise, in an office setting, a typical drywall-construction interior wall can provide concealment but not cover, meaning a shooter will still be able to fire through the walls and door. Similarly, a car door or the boot doesn't afford the same protection as does the bonnet with the engine block inside. Still, if the shooter cannot see his or her target, they will be firing blindly rather than aiming their weapon, reducing the probability of hitting a target.

In any case, those hiding inside a room should attempt to find some sort of additional cover, such as a filing cabinet or heavy desk. It is always better to find cover than concealment, but even partial cover,  something that will only deflect or fragment the projectiles, is preferable to no cover at all.

Bomb

Let's not mince our words here; bombs are a bastard. When a device is detonated all hell breaks loose. If you are in line of sight of the device then you are at risk from the shockwave, fragments and debris. Distance is the best defence. The blast from even a small device will be magnified inside a building. There will be a shockwave which will damage everything in its path, (including your internal organs), fire, heat, noise and steel and glass fragments travelling at high velocity. If you are some distance from the explosion and are not medically trained leave the area immediately helping the infirm or children as you are able. Do not loiter to take photographs, make telephone calls or seek comfort from strangers. Avoid obvious meeting points such as squares and precincts and avoid crowds. There may be secondary devices planted at such locations. 

If you are closer to the blast, and survive, switch on. It is easier said than done given you may suddenly be deaf and shaken beyond any previous experience. Live shooters may be on the loose. Seek cover if you are able and remember, you are at risk from falling shards of glass from buildings for a long time after the explosion. 

Wounded

If you are wounded it's not game over. The body will not give up and cease functioning but the mind is likely to. Escape out of the line of fire is doable if you want it to be. As with every survival situation, the will to survive is everything. Most people do freeze and go into shock which allows the shooter the opportunity to let loose with a close range killer shot. When shot apply an improvised pressure bandage using anything to hand to both the entry and exit wound if there is one which won't always be in line with the entry wound. If you are shot and get to a hospital alive you will probably live, such is the excellence of trauma care these days. 

American public information film on Run, Hide, Fight. There are many such video's available, mostly from the US. Here is another, this time from LA where I guess they have had plenty of experience in this field.

Fight

Advice from British law enforcement backs off from fighting the terrorist. Not so in America, as we might expect, where they promulgate the Run, Hide, Fight approach. I favour this. Be under no illusion, if you are cornered and your life is in danger, as a last resort only sudden maximum violence on or at your attacker using any improvised weapons to hand will keep you alive. 

  • RUN and escape, if possible.
    • If safe to do so, use an accessible path.
    • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
    • Leave your belongings behind.
    • Warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
    • Keep your hands visible.
  • HIDE, if escape is not possible.
    • If you are in an office, stay there and lock or barricade the door.
    • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.
    • Close, cover, and move away from windows.
    • Your hiding place should be out of the shooter's view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
    • Remain quiet with all sources of noise silenced.
  • FIGHT as an absolute last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger. DO NOT seek out the shooter. 
    • Attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter.
    • Act as aggressively as possible against him/her.
    • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter.
    • Throw items and improvise weapons.
    • Yell.
    • Commit to your actions.

Law Enforcement

Don't expect too much from law enforcement officers arriving on the scene. If caught up in the initial incident they themselves will have adrenaline pumping and may also be shocked. Be wary of first response directions issued under pressure by disorientated officers which may also send you into harms way. When armed officers arrive do exactly what they say. Make no sudden movements and do not approach them in haste or you might get an unwelcome response. They will be extremely keyed up. Mistakes can happen. Avoid shouting, gesturing and pointing and keep your hands where they can be seen. You may be roughly treated by first responding officers. Their priority is to neutralise the threat. They may push you down for your own safety or may treat you as a suspect until otherwise proven. Suck it up and do as you are told. Also, paramedics and doctors arriving will seek out the badly injured first. If they don't come to you think of it as good news. Wait your turn if wounded and rely on self help. They will get to you. After reaching a place of safety identify yourself to the police as a witness. If waiting try to recall the sequence of events and take notes in as much detail as you can remember where possible.


Summary

No one except the terrorist wants us to swap a normal way of life for paranoia and fear. That however, does not preclude accepting and understanding that risk exists and some simple steps to elevate our personal situational awareness can help mitigate that risk. Adopting the right mindset which is appropriate to your environment and being ready and able to elevate your preparedness and then react vigorously if a situation develops will all contribute to enhanced survivability. Finally, bloody minded determination and aggression will see you through the darkness should you be embroiled in an incident. Do not ever, give up. That's the point when the bastards have won. 

Finally, if it is all too dramatic for you and you had rather not bother my departing advice is move to Glasgow. They've got it taped up there.

 

Time For Tough Love With Belgium.

We all empathise with the people of Belgium following the murderous incident last week in Brussels for we know that it could be us next. I have zero sympathy for the Belgium government though and it's time the the UK and rest of Europe leaned on the Belgium government to straighten out their discombobulated counter terrorisim structure which puts us all at greater risk.

Belgium is broadly acknowledged to be the weak security link in Europe. Foreign intelligence agencies had warned Belgium that ISIS leaders in Syria had sent instructions to initiate the bombing of the airport and a metro station. Worse, Turkey said it deported Ibrahaim el-Bakroui, (a bombing suspect), in July 2015 and told the Belgium authorities that he was a terrorist suspect. 

It is a systemic failure of Belgium law enforcement agencies that they simply don't communicate with each other. In the Turkish instance the warning was passed to the Belgium federal police but the warning was not passed to the justice ministry's state prosecution office which could have instigated criminal proceedings. The federal police meanwhile, who are responsible for counter terrorisim, is set up to fight organised crime while the security service focuses on counter intelligence work against foreign states. Sometimes, information only reaches one branch when it is passed to an external agency like our own security services who then pass it back to the relevant Belgium force. Just to throw kerosene on the fire, the country of course is divided by two languages and an arcane political system that often leaves them without functioning government and local politics which produces 19 district mayors, (each district having responsibility for law enforcement), in a capital city of 1.2 million people. 

Different branches of law enforcement not talking to each other is not new and it is not unique to Belgium. We have had our issues in this regard too. When it became clear that lives were at risk because different agencies had a habit of witholding information from each other in Northern Ireland, Mrs Thatcher dispatched Sir Maurice Oldfield to the Province in 1979 to bang heads together. Security operators are by their nature naturally suspicious of motives and jealously guard their most important human sources. Some will be motivated by internal politics, fighting for budgets, influence and broader briefs. Others might seek personal or department recognition or just adopt an infantile, 'it's mine and I'm not sharing,' stance for no better reason than they got it first. 

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel; Time to do your job Mr Michel.

While most countries have made great strides in advancing inter agency cohesion and communication Belgium is way behind the curve. That can not be tolerated by the rest of Europe and pressure must be brought to bear on the government of the day. With it, full assistance in training, support and technology should be on the table. I suspect such pressure would be welcomed by those on the ground tasked with rooting out the bad guys. If Belgium chooses not to update it's arcane security structure then we should slam the door firmly shut. I don't see why my family should be placed at greater risk because a bunch of feckless politicians don't have the stones to do their job.

Brussels & Urban Zombies

1 x injured. 1x cretin on her phone. 1 x cretin taking a photograph.

A week after the Brussels atrocity and we can reflect on a number of aspects of the incident which I'll cover in the next few posts which give cause for concern. 

There is a modern trend which seems to be almost hard coded in the mind of the urban dweller to reach for a smart phone and either start recording any incident that takes place in his or her vicinity or to telephone a loved one. As an immediate action following an incident both are stupid and both are selfish. 

Taking photographs or footage of injured people, rather than helping them, is callous. It is also dangerous. Current popular tradecraft among Jihadists points to them detonating an IED then switching to a 'live shooter,' attack to kill the confused and disorientated civilians around them, or, they open fire then detonate. Indeed, shots were heard before the Brussels devices detonated and what was left of an AK 47 later recovered. 

Survival for those in the midst of the mayhem is absolutely dependant on their will to survive and their ability to quickly gather their wits to a heightened state of situational awareness and take action. Taking pictures or telling your Mum you're OK is all a bit pointless if you are about to take a couple of 7.62mm rounds to the chest. 

For the injured and dying words fail me of how they must feel when fellow travellers start snapping away. If I end up lying on the pavement in Piccadilly with my legs in bits all over another post code I'll be more than a little animated if I found myself full frame on someone's iPhone 6s. Perhaps we need a Good Samaritan or Duty to Act law which enshrine a duty of action and legal protection in doing so in law. Unfortunately, in these extreme situations such Act's would not be reasonable given many of the people reaching for their iPhones are doing so while in a state of shock and are themselves reaching out for comfort and security by the only means known to them. iPhones don't stop bullets though. 

Simple actions that could immediately be taken by the Home Office would be to prevent individuals generating money from opportunistic photographs and to heavily fine news agencies that solicit, (often while events are in progress) and pay for such pictures and footage. Perhaps too it is time for the return of the Public Information Film instructing citizens of 'actions to take in the event of a terrorist incident.' The Government does a good job in calming a sense of elevated fear and keeping 'business as usual,' but the hard fact is that it is only a matter of time before the terrorist strikes again on home soil.


Most of all, those Urban Zombies who wander around town with white ears buds stuck in their ears oblivious to all around them and reach for their smart phone when a bad thing happens are likely to discover that its a fast track route to being a dead Urban Zombie.