So…I saw the BBC's programme 'Dirty War' last night along with the after programme live audience discussion, and I must say I wasn't very impressed.
The programme itself was poorly written, not knowing whether to deal with the 'detection' of the bomb, the capturing of the terrorist cell or with the emergency planning around the event itself. It would have been better if they had focused on how, with their 'extensive' research, the emergency services would/would not cope with such an event. I'm not even going to start talking about the firefighter who removed his protective clothing to continue fighting a fire in a part of London that would be a 'no-go' area for the next 50 years…
The programme started with an exercise set in an office block, and here the makers were clearly referencing the Bank exercise that ran last year. It was during this exercise that the limitations of the protective suits, and the communication gear became apparent. Hopefully these problems will have been solved before we need to do this for real.
I did notice that the terrorists decided to irradiate East London, which is a bit of an 'own goal' as most of East London is Muslim in population, rendering Brick Lane uninhabitable would be a bit stupid…It's called Banglatown for a reason you know. I also found it amusing that they would blow up a bomb in my 'patch', if that day were anything like previous major incidents that I should have been involved in – I'd be sitting in the pub/someones party getting quietly drunk, and therefore being in no fit state to work.
There was a minor mention of the ease of gaining radioactive materials, for example in America 840 radioactive sources have been lost since 1997. Caesium has been offered for sale in Thailand, Bangladesh and Chechnya. All the usual suspects have shown serious interest in a 'Dirty bomb'.
There then followed a live discussion panel, which reminded me (as if I needed it) that the public are often really rather dense. Kudos to the representative from the Muslim Council of Britain for congratulating the programme makers for a balanced drama (although he couldn't see any Muslim victims of the bomb, which given the area it was detonated in, was laughable). Some of the callers however still moaned that the BBC was stirring up Islamaphobia. “Why couldn't it be unnamed terrorists” asked one caller, well I'm sorry to sayit but most of the terrorists in today's world (with a few exceptions) are indeed extremist Islamics. Then a member of the audience wanted to shout up a 'class war' point that it would be only the politicians who would be safe, which is a reasonable point – but not one that needed quite as much shouting and ranting.
Then discussion turned to the 'Preparing For Emergencies' booklet, which over half the audience said they had received and were critical of. However when asked how many had actually read it, a lot of hands went down…
One of the main complaints was that the booklet was 'patronising', well I'm sorry, but dealing when with the geniuses of the general public, I'd say it had to be written simply so people could understand it.
There then followed a lot of repeating the same questions, followed by repeating of the same answers and from then on I sat there grinding my teeth in despair at the great British public.
So at the end of the evening, very little was shown about terrorist threats or what to do in the event of a dirty bomb and nothing new was known about the governments response to such an event. I would suggest that most people went away from the programme more frightened than before, and with very little to reassure them.
My next large post will be about what the LAS (and by extension, myself) will be doing in the event of a Major Incident.