Terrorist Bomb Incidents

Date: 04.11.2016     Last updated: 01.11.2017 at 15.21
A Guideline for staff covering stories on terrorist bomb threats on location, or at the site of an un-exploded bomb (UXB). It could also be of relevance at the site of an industrial explosion.

This Guideline doe not apply to situations where there is a credible threat of further explosions, where it appears that the media are being deliberately targeted, or for work in areas designated as 'hostile' under the BBC High Risk Policy - in these instances, speak directly with the BBC High Risk Team (see Related Topics - Contacts).

Staff should be realistic and proceed with caution, considering we will be attempting to deal with a bomb situation that others may have been planning for some time to cause maximum damage and destruction, including possible secondary attacks on so-called soft targets.

It is always helpful if you have a pre-prepared plan of the actions to take:

1. Prior to an emergency situation arising

2. During an emergency

3. Re-grouping following an emergency - learn / improve our actions should it happen again.

Support and follow up measures should be put in place to assist those who may be subject to or witness traumatic events or situations.

What Can Go Wrong?

  • Serious and life threatening injuries from blast, debris, fragments, heat, shockwaves and shrapnel.
  • Security and personal safety related issues.
  • Potential exposure to chemicals and biological agents.
  • Temporary or permanent hearing/sight loss and disorientation.
  • Communication failure - mobile phone systems are likely to crash or be switched off in a civil emergency.
  • Failure of services including electricity, water, gas including traffic lights and street lighting may fail.
  • Trauma where staff and observers are exposed to a violent situation, personal life threatening danger or fear of death.

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • BBC Editorial guidelines, Section 11: War, Terror and Emergencies.
  • Contact Head of Corporate Security & Investigations if you believe that your programme activity or personal profile may give rise to security threats to yourself, or to the BBC.
  • The BBC Safety and the High Risk team can give support for productions that may enter hostile environments.

Control Measures

General Controls

  • Consider the possibility of a second planned or subsequent explosion this includes identifying anything that could be a risk.
  • Co-operate with emergency services respect cordons and exclusion zones.
  • Before the bomb explodes, staff can only be safe by position or distance and this means outside the predicted blast or fall out area.
  • Staff including camera, sound and journalists should decide as practical on the best possible elevated position with clear visual access outside the blast or fall out area if possible using existing cover.
  • Be realistic about what coverage is achievable, you may not safely be able to see the site of the attack.
  • Establish contact with any Incident control or local security/ police/military command, select a broadcasting position avoiding being put at risk by overhanging or damaged buildings.
  • Keep up to date with what is happening or planned to happen, assess escape routes and be prepared to evacuate, avoiding further hazards.
  • Continually reassess the situation. Evacuate if there is hostility to media crews or if media crews are targets of the attack.
  • Consider communications and use of sat phones, walkie-talkies, call in times, checking in with news desk and deployers.
  • Once the bomb explodes and the fire and emergency services take over. They will establish a cordon and assume Health and Safety of all staff in this cordon and police will co-ordinate this.

 Chemical and Biological

  • If chemical/biological, evacuate at first opportunity.
  • Avoid breathing any dust from detonation and use PPE such as suitable face masks if available.
  • Seek advice from Occupational Health.
  • Contact BBC for information in an Emergency and informing BBC so BBC 159 procedures can start.

Division Specific Issues

  • This information is specific to Journalists and News departments.
  • Work within the requirements of the Editorial guidelines and contact the High Risk team where you might enter hostile environments or need a high environments risk assessment. These activities may need a higher level of approval.

FAQs/Did You Know?

  • An explosion is defined as the sudden and rapid release of gases from a confined space. It needs a combustible material, oxygen and a source of ignition. In a bomb these components are usually bound together so that when detonated combustion happens very rapidly, at anywhere from 9,000 to 27,500 feet per second.

 Safety Guides - Quick Links

About this site

This site describes what the BBC does in relation to managing its health, safety and security risks and is intended for those who work directly for the BBC.

It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.


Links: Some links on this site are only accessible when connected to the BBC network