Terrorism and Major Incidents

Major Incidents

What is a major incident?

A major incident is:

An event or situation that threatens serious damage to human welfare... the environment or the security of the United Kingdom.

Decontamination tent

We must prepare for any of the following:

  • Natural hazards such as snow, floods and gales
  • Man-made disasters such as rail accidents and motorway pileups
  • Industrial accidents such as oil spills and factory fires
  • Terrorism
  • Food poisoning and disease outbreaks such as BSE, foot and mouth and E-coli.

What is Cheshire Police's role in the event of a major incident?

Each agency has a role to play in a major incident, from the fire service and environmental agency, to the local media. Each individual helps in their area of expertise.

Sergeant Keith Robbins, Cheshire Police's Critical Incident Manager, said:

"In the case of any Major Incident your safety is our main concern. We have various procedures in place to make sure that the disruption to your daily lives is as minimal as possible.

We are responsible for the co-ordination of the emergency services, local authorities and other organisations involved at the scene or elsewhere. This allows those agencies to do their jobs efficiently.

In the unlikely event of a Major Incident we are required to create cordons restricting access to the rescue zone and potential crime scene. The Police control all the goings on around the area like diverting traffic, controlling the media, setting up meeting points etc.

It is our job along with any other investigative bodies to find out what exactly happened by securing any potential evidence. We then will pass on as much information as possible to the relevant authorities.

After all necessary actions have been taken we put in place short term measures to restore normality."

Counter Terrorism

Our Counter Terrorism team works round the clock keeping Cheshire safe and following up on intelligence received through surveillance and through the communities.

Although Cheshire may not have the iconic terrorist targets that cities like London and Manchester have, Cheshire has 200 miles of motorway, train links to Manchester and North Wales (with a main junction at Crewe), and a busy airspace. You will find a mix of traditional industries and commercial enterprises. There is a northern belt of petro-chemical and chemical industries set against an area of agricultural farming and light industries, as well as some of strategic waterways.

These features make Cheshire a potential target which is why everybody must be on the lookout for potential terrorist activity. Residents are reminded to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity.

Suspicious packages

There are a number of signs that may make a letter or package appear suspicious. One sign alone may be innocent, but a combination of a few will require caution.

Do not handle the package unnecessarily and if there is any doubt, leave the package on a flat surface, isolate the area and seek advice.

Seven key things to look out for:

  1. Size: Is the letter big enough to house a device without being obvious e.g. Jiffy-bags?
  2. Shape: Is the shape irregular e.g. lumps denoting possibility of batteries or switching gear? Please do not bend.
  3. Sender: Do you recognise who sent it from the postmark, label or typeface. Do they match? Can you check with the recipient?
  4. Stamp: Are there no stamps or is it over-stamped? Is the postmark blurred, smudged or missing altogether?
  5. Seal: Has the letter been sealed more securely denoting it is containing something that must not fall out? Is there excessive use of tape, staples etc.?
  6. Stain: Is there an oily stain showing through the envelope or oily finger marks on the outside? Some explosives weep/sweat small amounts of liquid that will produce stains.
  7. Smell: Explosives can smell - the smell of almonds or marzipan is suspicious. Equally an overpowering smell of (for example) perfume could be used to try and disguise this.

If you suspect it, report it

  • Have you noticed somebody in the area buying or storing lots of chemicals? Report it.
  • Have you seen discarded chemicals in areas you wouldn't normally see? Report it.
  • Do you have suspicions about somebody using several mobile phones at once? Report it.
  • Have you noticed somebody surveilling an area or generally acting suspiciously? Report it.

No call to the anti-terrorist hotline is a waste of time, your call could save lives. We have dedicated team members to follow up on your suspicions.

You have the right to be suspicious and any call made to the anti-terrorist hotline is made anonymously.

How to report suspicious activity

In an emergency

If you think you have seen a person acting suspiciously, or if you see a vehicle, unattended package or bag which might be a threat, immediately move away and call 999.

If you are suspicious or concerned about somebody's activities or behaviour.

If you think that you may have seen something suspicious or you are unsure about somebody's activities or behaviour, however insignificant it may seem at the time, call the Anti-Terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

Calls are taken in confidence by specialist officers who will analyse your information. They'll decide if and how to follow it up. Your call could be vital to us, however unsure you may be.