Why every firm in Leeds has a role to play in terror defence

West Yorkshire Police cordoned an area off around Leeds Kirkgate Market, for a possible bomb scare on September 20. James Hardisty.
West Yorkshire Police cordoned an area off around Leeds Kirkgate Market, for a possible bomb scare on September 20. James Hardisty.
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Every business in Leeds city centre has a part to play in responding to the threat of a terrorist attack.

That was the message for organisations who took part in the latest Project Griffin event.

Sean Walker, of Business Against Leeds in Crime.

Sean Walker, of Business Against Leeds in Crime.

The sessions, co-ordinated by Business Against Crime in Leeds (BACIL), are led by experts from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit.

Footage from real attacks is shared along with advice on how to react in the event of an attack and recognise the signs of ‘hostile surveillance’.

BACIL manager Sean Walker said: “It’s a fact of life we’re having to learn to live with.

“We don’t want people to be scared, but we want them to be aware and vigilant.”

Project Griffin and Project Argus, which includes working through attack scenarios, have been run in Leeds since 2011.

But Mr Walker said recent events in Manchester and London had generated increased interest in the free training.

Last month’s evacuation of Kirkgate Market following the discovery of a suspicious package also highlighted the potential impact on businesses.

Mr Walker said: “The immediate feedback from the latest meeting was that people have gone away, looked at what they’ve got in place and how they can improve it. It’s about safeguarding people.”

The sessions are just one aspect of the work done by BACIL to improve security citywide.

The organisation runs Shopwatch and Pubwatch schemes as well as a network of radios for sharing information and a website with regular briefings.

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