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Evacuations and lock downs

The vast majority of bomb threats are made by phone and are hoaxes, although terrorists do make hoax calls with the intent of causing alarm and disruption and genuine calls with correct, and/or misleading, information.

• Any hoax is a crime and, no matter how unconvincing, must be reported to the police.

• Best practice guidance on bomb threats is available online from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) website.

• The Police Search Advisors (POLSA) will assist and give advice based on the grading given by the Bomb Threat Analysis Centre (BTAC). The BTAC will base their grading on the information available – which is why it is important to follow the Bomb Threat Checklist.

• The Bomb Threat Checklist in the ‘Business Continuity Plan and Incident Management Plan’ template on the Creating a business continuity plan has the same content as the CPNI’s checklist, plus it also mentions dialling 1471 after the caller has hung up, so you can continue to use the checklist in your plan. Copy it, make it available to staff who could conceivably receive a bomb threat and ensure that they know what to do.

• The Police might suggest a search based on the HOT Protocol for unattended items (Is it Hidden? Obviously Suspicious? Typical of what you’d expect to see there?) See also searching premises on the CPNI website.

• If a suspicious item is identified, full or partial evacuation must be considered. Minimum safe distances are 100 metres for small items (briefcase or rucksack), 200 metres for larger items (suitcase or car), 400m for a large van or lorry. Ultimately the decision on whether or not to evacuate rests with the Head Teacher.

• Depending on the circumstances and your site you might be advised/consider that it is safest (for some) to shelter-in-place. See ‘Partial and Full School Lockdowns’ on this website.

• There is advice on ‘Developing Dynamic Lockdown Procedures’ on the Gov.uk website.

• The evacuation location, and the route to it, must be dynamically assessed to ensure there are no further suspicious items or secondary devices.

• Pre-planned evacuation locations should therefore be easy to assess for suspicious items - e.g. playing fields, green areas, park areas or open spaces - and should be away from vehicles. See also evacuation planning on the CPNI website.

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