Personal safety

It is important to know what to do if you witness or get caught up in a terror attack. On this page you will find advice that can help you both at home and overseas.

Threat levels

A great deal of effort is put into keeping people safe and preventing acts of terrorism.

The threat level from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland has remained at severe since March 2009, meaning an attack is "highly likely".

The threat level in Northern Ireland for international terrorism is ‘severe’, meaning that an attack is highly likely but not imminent.

How you can help to keep people safe

If you're aware of criminality, suspicious behaviour or activity that aims to create terror in communities, you can play your part in stopping it and share what you know with police. If it’s an emergency call 999. 

If it's not an emergency:

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers which is anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime:

If you run a business

Police have been working with businesses to deliver training for staff on what they can do to help keep people safe if an attack happens.  If you would like to find out more about booking training contact your local police on 101.

Stadia advice

If you’re attending an event in a stadium or arena, you should:

  • arrive early to allow time for security checks
  • minimise what you carry: fewer bag searches will speed up entry to the ground
  • be vigilant at all times and if you see anything suspicious, tell a steward right away
  • call 999 if you see anything that could pose an immediate threat to safety
  • in an emergency, listen to the public address instructions and follow them
  • if told to evacuate, do so immediately, don't wait around to film events on your mobile
  • move right away from the stadium as quickly as possible for your safety and to allow clear access for any emergency vehicles

Once you are safe, follow the local police force on social media channels for updates. The PSNI will mainly use Twitter for this purpose.

Advice if you're travelling

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offers travel advice for specific countries. Check this advice before travelling.

The video below offers advice if you're planning to travel abroad.

Prepare yourself to cope with an attack and help victims

Some people will have basic first aid training and know what to do when someone collapses with a heart attack. However, it takes different knowledge and skills to help a victim of a bomb blast, shooting or stabbing. Quick actions in these situations, particularly to stop bleeding, will save lives.

The citizenAID Pocket Guide is a clear and simple series of immediate actions. You can download the free, citizenAID App from either Google Play, Apple App or the Windows store.

Follow the steps to do the right things in the right order and help save lives.

What to do if you witness a terrorist act

If you witness an act of terrorism either at home or abroad there are three basic steps that you should follow:

  • RUN - to a place of safety - this is better than trying to surrender or negotiate
  • HIDE - it is better to hide than confront - barricade yourself in, turn your phone to silent and use only when it safe to do so
  • TELL - alert police - make sure you know the local emergency number - in the UK it’s 999, for EU countries it’s 112

Further advice on staying safe during an act of terrorism is available from both the PSNI website and on the National Police Chief's Council video.

If there is an attack, follow the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on social media to get information and advice.

Further advice on incidents at home or overseas

You may be concerned for the well being of friends or relatives who are away from home and in the vicinity of reported unrest or a terror attack.

You can get updates from:

Talking to children and young people about terrorism

The tips and advice below can help parents to talk to their children about terrorism:

  • listen carefully to a child’s fears and worries
  • don't panic a child by speculating on reasons or fears of future attacks
  • offer reassurance and comfort and avoid complicated and worrying explanations that could leave them more frightened and confused
  • help them find advice and support to understand distressing events and feelings

The NSPCC also has advice for parents if you want to talk to your children about terrorism.

Children can always contact Childline, adults can contact the Helpline free and confidentially 24/7 on 0808 800 5000.

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