COPS are urging Black Friday shoppers to be on the alert in crowded high streets to help fight the threat from terrorists.

West Midlands Police and its counter terrorism unit have launched a campaign ahead of the the busiest shopping day before Christmas on November 23.

During the campaign, which is the latest version of the force's ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) initiative, people are reminded to stay alert and report anything suspicious to officers.

The head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, chief superintendent Matt Ward, said: “While there’s no specific threat to an event or venue, the threat level for the UK remains at severe. Last year’s events showed us that attacks can happen at any time or place without warning

“Our priority is the safety and security of all those attending events and crowded places and the public are encouraged to continue with their plans to enjoy events.

“The public can help us keep the events and areas safe by being vigilant for anyone or anything that looks out of place or suspicious and reporting it to a member of staff, security or police."

Businesses are being asked do their bit by educating staff in how to spot suspicious behaviour and what to do in the event of an attack.

Police has also issued a checklist to help improve staff reactions in the event of an emergency as part of their planning for busy Christmas shopping periods.

They are urging staff to answer simple questions like:

• Who is appointed to make decisions on the shop floor, and do they know what they’re doing?

• How do you enter and exit the building in emergency?

• How do you lock down quickly?

• Where can you hide?

• How do you communicate and how do you stay updated if you find yourself in an attack scenario?

• Have you briefed your staff?

Specialist advice for companies operating in crowded places, such as major events, sport stadia, visitor attractions, bars, theatres and shopping centres, is available on the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) website along with CT Policing’s new ACT Awareness e-Learning tool.