Police brief Aberdeen shopping centres on how to handle terror attacks

Union Square in Aberdeen
Union Square in Aberdeen

Police have briefed north-east shopping centre staff on how to react in the event of a terrorist attack in the area.

Officers have urged bosses at Union Square and the Bon-Accord and St Nicholas Centre in Aberdeen to draw up “60-second security” schemes in order to rapidly respond to any potential incident.

Though the chances of an atrocity happening in the Granite City are thought to be remote, officers pointed to the recent terror attack in Strasbourg to show that such incidents “can happen anywhere”.

A man shouted “Allahu Akbar” – which means “God is the greatest” – as he opened fire at a Christmas market in the French city.

Two people were killed, one was left brain dead and 12 others were wounded.

Sergeant Gavin Jardine explained the drive during a recent meeting of Aberdeen City Centre Community Council.

He said: “We have spoken to retailers in relation to counter-terrorism and how to keep crowded places safe.

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“What happened in Strasbourg shows that sort of thing can happen at any time, you just never know.

“It is a relatively small place but it was targeted.”

The force yesterday urged people to “always be vigilant in busy areas and report any suspicions or concerns”, though there is “no known increased threat to busy town and city-centres in the north-east”.

The Christmas Vigilance Campaign is aimed at keeping large events and popular spots safe over the festive period.

Chief Inspector Neil McDonald added: “It’s important that we are alert and all have safety at the forefront of our minds when we’re out in crowded places.

“At a time when places will be busier there is no better time to ensure this advice is at the front of people’s minds.

“Experts from counter-terrorism policing will be asking retailers and other businesses who operate in crowded places to think about their contingency plans.”

National coordinator Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, said: “I want staff working in crowded places to know who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, how to enter and exit a building in an emergency, how to lock down or where to hide if needs be.”

People can report suspicions anonymously via www.gov.uk/ACT or 0800 789 321.