Expatica news

Public terror information ‘must improve’

28 July 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government plans to inform its citizens better about what is expected of them during a terror alert, following criticism after a warning issued earlier this month.

The Interior Ministry is especially interested in public information campaigns used in the UK and the US. British families will receive in the mail this week a leaflet with advice about how to prepare for a terrorist attack.

A ministry spokesman said the Netherlands did not intend to copy the British leaflet, but admitted it would make contact with British authorities about the brochure, newspaper De Volkskrant reported Wednesday.

The system of using colour codes to designate the seriousness of the terror threat — which will be introduced in the Netherlands at the end of this year — originates in the US.

The ministry is also investigating how the colours can be better explained to the public, such as what advice is associated with each colour.

The spokesman also said the Expertise Centre for Risk and Crisis Communication that was established last month will play a prominent role in the dissemination of public information.

The Netherlands issued a terror alert for specific targets in the west of the country and The Hague on 9 July on advice from the secret service AIVD, which said it had indications Islamic extremists might be preparing an attack. The alert has not been rescinded.

But an AIVD spokesman said authorities have not received any information about suspicious situations in response to the latest terror alert, unlike the period after the 11 September attacks in the US when Dutch authorities noted a rise in public responses.

The AIVD is not surprised, however. The Interior Ministry issued a warning to the public after the 11 September attacks to be on the alert, but the AIVD spokesman said present Interior Minister Johan Remkes has been less explicit in issuing such a request.

According to the ministry spokesman, there was no need to issue specific instructions to the public because Dutch authorities knew which objects and people were at threat.

Security has been tightened around Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and the Dutch Parliament.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news