ACT Awareness is an innovative course that could save lives.

Over 1500 companies across the UK have signed up to an innovative training scheme that could help prevent terror attacks. In just six months since the product was first made available, organisations as varied as John Lewis & Partners, the English National Opera and Manchester Cathedral have enrolled their staff.

Called ACT Awareness e-Learning, the training was developed in a ground-breaking partnership between Counter Terrorism Policing and retail giant Marks & Spencer. It covers how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and what to do if an attack should take place.

Free to use, the course can be divided into short sections to suit business needs. However it takes just 45 minutes in total to complete - 45 minutes that could save lives.

John Frost, Head of Business Continuity from Marks and Spencer, helped lead the project. He says:

The feedback from the staff at M&S and the other organisation taking part has been very positive. Colleagues found the content informative and engaging and a second version of the product is now being planned to keep the training up to date with any emerging threats.

The digital format is proving popular with shopping, entertainment and sports venues with more companies applying to take part every day.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, national police lead for Protective Security, says:

All staff working in crowded places – not just those who have a security role – can follow the course and be in a stronger position to help protect themselves, colleagues and the public.

We are grateful to Marks and Spencer who entered into this collaboration with us. This is the type of joint working we want to see more of in the future across all sectors.

Our officers will still be available to deal with companies on a one-to-one level but this will lead to many more ‘eyes and ears’ available to help us that could potentially save lives.

Organisations wanting more information, or to apply for registration, should visit the National Counter Terrorism Security Office website’s ACT Awareness page.