Anti-terror comms push targets UK regions

The Government is planning further steps to boost terror-attack communications measures in the English regions, following the mock emergency exercise in London last weekend.

Government News Network director Rob Haslam, who handled media relations during last Sunday’s operation – which saw the centre of London’s financial district sealed off for a simulated chemical attack on the Underground – said further steps were now planned to ‘develop and disseminate’ best practice on media handling in an emergency throughout the regions.

Haslam said he planned regional presentations on the ‘lessons learned’, citing media accreditation and how media centres should be set up as two priorities for discussion.

He said there was a ‘possibility’ campaigns could include local versions of website www.londonperpared.gov.uk, which was set up after September 11 to inform Londoners of the arrangements in place to cope with an attack on the capital.

In addition, Haslam said attempts will now be made to decide the final make-up of Regional Media Emergency Forums (RMEFs). These groups were set up in nine English regions in May to bring together media, local emergency services and PROs to decide how a response would best be co-ordinated in a catastrophe.

He added: ‘This is an inclusive process – it’s not the Government telling people what to do, it’s about sharing ideas and best practice’.

Haslam said around 40 PROs from local authorities, emergency services and public utilities, most of whom are now in post, will sit on the RMEFs nationwide.

‘Old emergency planning areas were on local authority boundaries. We need cross-cutting structures in the post-9/11 environment,’ he said.

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