Whether it be posters on the Tube network or metal detectors at museums, counter-terror measures are everywhere. And, contrary to what some may believe, they can actually reassure usby Brooke Rogers / May 31, 2017 / Leave a comment
We live in a landscape of pop-up security measures. Exactly two months passed between the ramming and knife attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, and last week’s suicide bomb on a crowded arena in Manchester. In both cases, we saw our public vista change significantly in the immediate wake of both attacks.
The most noticeable changes were an increased security presence made up of armed police and, more recently, an increased military presence on our streets.
Other indicators of the threat response included the introduction of temporary (and not so temporary) barriers and chicanes, additional security pass and bag checks at our places of work and leisure—and repeated encouragement from the authorities to remain vigilant when occupying these spaces.
Irrespective of the shape that they take, these pop-up security measures in public places communicate that the current state of play is abnormal—in spite of repeated calls for us to carry on as usual.
Some members of the public find the increased security measures reassuring, while others report feeling more anxious and, at times, intimidated.
The Myth of the Panic-prone Public
UK Counter-terror (CT) communication initiatives abound. Campaigns such as ‘It’s Probably Nothing, But’, ‘Action Counters Terror’ (ACT), and ‘See It, Say, It, Sorted’ collectively encourage members of the public to report anything unusual.
The British Transport Police took this a step further with the introduction of the ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ campaign designed to improve the public awareness of what they should do during a marauding terrorist firearms attack—if they should ever have the misfortune to be caught up in one.
These written and spoken messages have been added to public spaces that are already bristling with visual signals and deterrents in the form of CCTV cameras, uniformed staff, sniffer dogs, and more.
How do members of the public respond?
Getting the public engaged
The sheer variety of campaigns might lead one to believe that public-facing communications have…