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Following a spate of attacks in the West Midlands, the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters (NCTPHQ) has released new advice on how to prepare your staff for potential hazardous substance incidents.

The NCTPHQ’s national bulletin urges victims to “use caution and keep a safe distance to avoid exposure yourself”, “remove themselves, remove outer clothing and remove the substance.”

The guidance comes after a criminal incident took place on October 20, which “involved the consecutive dispersals of a noxious substance into three business premises in the West Midlands.”

The bulletin continued: “Staff and customers at two food outlets and a supermarket were exposed to what is thought to be a type of pepper spray around 7pm. Fifteen people were treated at the scenes for breathing difficulties by paramedics, with one taken to hospital. None have suffered any lasting effects. A man has since been arrested.

“Although this was a criminal incident, there are some early learnings which are of relevance to our Protect network of businesses. In response to the incident, emergency services deployed the REMOVE advice, which is designed as the early response for suspected exposure to a hazardous substance.

“After following the advice, symptoms amongst the casualties were greatly reduced. The REMOVE advice is available to business and we recommend that you consider whether your employees have been provided with the advice, and whether they would be able to respond safely in the early moments of a similar incident.

“Improving the ability of employees to be able to recognise a similar situation and act quickly in response to unexplained symptoms or suspicious activities involving a hazardous material is an issue we are continuing to explore. We hope to support the network with a further recognition tool in the coming months, in partnership with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI).”

The government’s REMOVE guidance on hazardous substance exposure can be found here:

UK Protect – National Bulletin

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