Social media users have mocked a police force accused of scaremongering ahead of Brexit by warning people to keep ‘grab-and-go’ bags ready in case of emergency.
Police Scotland issued the advice via social media, suggesting people pack a travel bag with essential items needed for survival.
But people took to social media to make light of the suggestion, saying that they had stashed Moet champagne, Walkers crisps ‘grab bags’ and even Nerf crossbows.
Police Scotland issued the ‘grab-and-go bag’ advice via social media with this graphic, suggesting people pack a travel bag with essential items needed for survival
The packs, similar to those suggested by US Home Security in readiness for flooding and earthquakes, contain a first aid kit, batteries, an ’emergency plan’, medication, a torch, radio and food and water.
A graphic with the advice includes a phone charger, extra clothing and a whistle.
Pensioners groups denounced the campaign as ‘a step beyond what is necessary’ and raised concerns it would alarm people, especially the elderly.
Politicians described the publicity drive as ‘extremely ill-advised’ and said current fears around civil unrest and food and medicine shortages after Brexit should have made bosses think twice about the timing.
Police chiefs also faced a backlash online, with social media users citing genuine concerns about the potential fallout from Brexit to wilder conspiracies of an impending ‘zombie apocalypse’.
Age Scotland chief executive Brian Sloan said many pensioners could have been alarmed by the warning.
He said: ‘I know that many people have been bamboozled as to why on earth this grab bag graphic has been advertised out of the blue and seems to have only served to set the hares running.
‘It’s just bizarre. Of course it is important to be prepared in the event of an emergency but this seems a step beyond what is necessary.’
In a message posted on Twitter at 11.30am on Sunday, Police Scotland’s official control room Twitter account offered the advice along with an image of a fully-stocked grab and go bag.
It read: ‘September is preparedness month. Emergencies can happen at any time and it’s recommended to have a #GrabBag ready containing essential items including medication, copies of important documents, food/water, torch, radio and other personal items #30Days30WaysUK #BePrepared.’
The campaign follows similar efforts in the UK by Northamptonshire County Council, which piloted the idea in 2015.
Organisers earmarked September as the ideal time to raise public safety awareness.
Originally developed by the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency in Vancouver, Washington, the campaign has been running since 2010.
Each day is devoted to another piece of advice around ’emergency preparedness’, which range from flood awareness to general first aid.
Liam Kerr, Scottish Tory justice spokesman, said: ‘It’s difficult to understand why September requires people to prepare an emergency grab bag.
‘Given the current atmosphere in the UK, Police Scotland should have reconsidered the impact this would have before posting.’
Twitter user Graham Love wrote: ‘Slightly ominous though to see local authorities up & down the land tweeting about preparing your #grabbag so you can evacuate quickly…’
Another user, @thebellshillbaker, said: ‘This is crass. Scaring people with no explanations. What emergencies do you envisage? Brexit? War? Civil disturbance? Flood? Pestilence? Nuclear accident? Martial Law?’
Last night a Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘The messaging is part of a general resilience awareness campaign that runs each year during September which emergency services and partners across Britain are taking part in.’
According to the website #30days30waysUK, the organisation is a non-profit and volunteer group run by UK Local Resilience Forums, which include police, fire and rescue services as well as doctors, nurses and ambulance staff.
A number of extreme examples were used to justify the grab bag such as apocalypse and war
The group says September is the perfect time to raise awareness because it is at the end of the summer holidays and ‘people are starting to turn their minds to the coming autumn and winter which may bring severe weather’.
It says its main aim is to build resilience and be prepared for anything from fire to flooding.
Police Scotland’s campaign partner Prepared in Essex said: ‘We’re not talking end of the world stuff, just things that could occur in our day-to-day lives.
‘The campaign has no links to Brexit and there isn’t anything you haven’t be told.
‘It is just coincidence these issues have collided on Twitter and some people have assumed that they are linked.’
The Scottish Government denied any involvement in the UK campaign despite police tweeting a link to its official emergency resilience website.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The Ready Scotland website offers practical public advice on preparing for emergencies and other disruptive events, such as severe cold weather, flooding and power outages.’