One of the very many benefits of attending the Bus and Coach show is the ability to attend one of the many excellent presentations that are offered to attendees free of charge. One of these was a presentation that I attended by sergeant Wayne Watling from the counter terrorism awareness team, part of the Metropolitan police team that works very closely with TFL. In addition to listening to the very interesting talk from Wayne I also spoke to other members of staff who work for the counter terrorist team.
The reality is that recent tragic events that have taken place in both Manchester and London as well as the rest of Europe show that terrorists are utilising larger vehicles to cause mass destruction. So far the weopon of choice has been large trucks as events in Berlin and Nice have proved were awfully effective in the indiscriminate murder of any poor soul who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The concern from the Police was simple, and that was that at some point the bus and coach sector might be the next victim.
However, the Police also brought another dimension to the table and that was the real value that members of the bus and coach sector can play in keeping alert for any possible strange or suspicious behaviour. We are uniquely placed in many ways due to the fact that we are a very visible industry whom operate out of key hubs,bus, and coach stations , airports, service stations. In additions many bus drivers know members of their communities and are well positioned to spot odd or suspicious behaviours, and this was as much the key message that the counter terrorist police were trying to get across.
Operation Griffin, is the formal name given to the campaign that encourages members of the public to report any suspicious behaviour that people notice. It is at the end of the day, the small things that give these people away. The other big issue that they focused on was people not being afraid to report things that they notice. The biggest problem is people feeling as if they are wasting police time, so the toxic combination of not wanting to waste police time coupled with the reluctance to report people is what the Police are really keen to over come. They need our industry to be their eyes and ears, and we must all remember that the reality is that such dreadful attacks are very rare but we do have a mutual duty to be vigilant.