Christmas markets can present a tempting soft target for terrorists or to others who want to act out their frustrations on others, not least because of the ease of access to large numbers of visitors, but also because they present an opportunity to achieve maximum effect in terms of casualties and media reaction for minimum effort, be it a lone wolf type attack with a knife and/or motor vehicle or a more sophisticated attack using some form of IED.
Visitors to Christmas markets should expect to see some heightened levels of security with some markets reinforced with physical barriers around the perimeter, at access points and an increased security presence. These measures are put in place to mitigate an attack and are not in place as a result of any specific threat.
The German Security authorities assess that the Christmas period could see a significant increase in the number of non-specific threat warnings as well as hoaxes.
The Christmas markets are a unique opportunity to enjoy the local culture and hospitality. If you are uncomfortable or see something suspicious then report to the Police. If you think there is an immediate threat to life dial the German Civil Police on 110. In the UK dial 999.
Do not hesitate to report anything suspicious (particularly the activity of people and vehicles) to the Emergency RMP Hotline on 05254 982 2222 (They really don’t mind if it’s a false alarm – better safe than sorry). Anything suspicious in the UK should be reported to the UK Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.
Stay Safe. In the unlikely event of being caught up in an incident the UK National Counter Terrorist Police advice is to ‘Run, Hide and tell’.
RUN to a place of safety. If there is nowwhere to go, then.....
HIDE. It is better to hide than to confront. Remember to turn your phone to silent and off vibrate. Barricade yourself in if you can. Finally, when it is safe to do so....
TELL the police. Dial 110 in Germany.
You should not be alarmed by this advice, the probability of being caught up in an incident is very, very small.
Anyone travelling anywhere abroad is strongly advised to consult the FCO Foreign Travel Advice webpage prior to travel and whilst overseas. This will provide the most current and accurate advice concerning both the security situation and other key travel information.
Travel to the Channel Ports
The French, Belgian and Dutch authorities typically increase their police presence before and during the festive season which might include a presence at border checkpoints, airports and transport hubs. Remember the ban on wearing uniform in public in France, Belgium and Holland is still in place. Also avoid having readily identifiable items of military or unit clothing and equipment on display whilst travelling.
Human Traffickers/Stowaways may attempt to gain entry to your vehicles with the aim of travelling illegally into the UK. The advice is that if you stop on an auto route within 80 Km of a Channel Port, you should check the vehicle for any unwanted passengers prior to entering the port Authority area. There is a very real possibility that you could be approached and offered cash to smuggle people into the UK. Although the offer of a large sum of cash is tempting, if personnel are caught by the UK Border Force the minimum fine imposed will be £2,000 per person smuggled plus a possible (minimum of 12 months) term in jail. Such requests for passage to the UK are not confined to drivers/passengers of cars, coach passengers have also been approached in the past.
If you are approached or find a stowaway you must summon local police.
In the event of stowaways being discovered, Director Army Legal advice is as follows:
- Should a stowaway be found, he/she should be invited to leave the vehicle (using appropriate language and/or gesture).
- If they refuse, they should be warned that the local police (“gendarme”) will be called to forcibly remove them.
- No attempt should be made to forcibly remove any stowaway, even if this means that the vehicle is prevented from catching the train or ferry due to non-arrival of civil police in time.
- Any actions taken, including the departure of any stowaways at the first time of asking, must be documented in order to rebut any subsequent allegations of assault and/or injury.
- In connection with this, personnel searching vehicles should not act alone; they should act at least in pairs so there is a witness to any action taken.
More information and advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/secure-your-vehicle-to-help-stop-illegal-immigration
PLease Note: travel to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (RoI)
The Threat to MOD personnel in NI is very real as Dissident Republican Terrorists are actively targeting identifiable members of the Army, Police and other Government officials including members of the MOD. All military personnel and MOD Staff (on duty and strongly advised when on leave) are required to provide the details of any leave or duty travel to Northern Ireland (or the Republic of Ireland) to the Centralised Risk Assessment Cell (CRAC) at least 48 hrs prior to travelling.
CRAC telephone numbers:
Mil: 9491 61245 or 63601, Civ: +44 28922 61245 or 63601, Mob: +44 7717720021
The recommended emergency services (Fire, Police, Ambulance) number when travelling in Europe is 112
Further information can be found on your unit sharepoint and BFG announcements.
Further advice is available from BFG HQ G2 on 0172 2034 584 and from 445 MI section on 0172 2029 740