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The risk of violent acts

What is the risk of my workplace being subjected to a serious violent hostile act?  I guess the place to start this assessment is to take a view on how good a target you are now and likely to be in the next five years. 

Firstly, any aspiring terrorist group is going to want to achieve success; it is pointless being an unsuccessful suicide bomber.  They also aim to create the maximum effect for the minimum of effort.  We all know that the most lucrative targets are where there is the greatest chance to kill, maim or just where lots of people can observe abhorrent violence.  It follows that the busiest streets, transport hubs, large-scale events and televised events are lucrative terrorist targets.  However, the security in most of these areas is being strengthened daily.  Terrorists can turn to iconic symbols of power (parliament), utility companies (power generation), economic hubs (stock market) and companies supplying military, government and critical logistics to very large national brands and so on.  A successful terrorist attack on Brussels airport suggests that any European airport could be next and that will hit tourism and commerce.  Any successful terrorist attack on a city office block suggests that a similar attack could happen in any major city and any successful attack on our water or power by terrorists would cause huge concern.

Countering terrorism costs money and while Governments will assist to cover critical elements of National Infrastructure, businesses have to justify the expense to their shareholders.  The question is then how much physical security does a business need and how do these businesses get the maximum protection for the minimum outlay?

First question: If a terrorist bomb were exploded in close proximity to my business, what would be the likely effect?

  • Would it kill or injure staff – many or a few?
  • Could it stop the business functioning totally or partially?
  • How long would it take to get the business back to normal operations?
  • Would customers be affected by the violence –psychological or physical – how badly?
  • Would the attack on my business have a detrimental and lasting effect on other businesses?
  • Are shareholders aware of these vulnerabilities?
  • Are there better local targets – less well protected or more iconic?
  • Do your security measures look effective?
  • Are they effective?
  • Are all staff security aware and practised in emergency procedures?
  • Do you ask their advice on how to defeat your security procedures?

Second question:  Having reviewed vulnerabilities what actions do you need to take?

  • Prevent access to all unauthorised individuals and vehicles
  • Provide maximum stand-off outside Vehicle Control Points
  • Ensure security measures are overt enough to show but not so aggressive that they suggest the business is a high value target.
  • Minimise risk and enhance staff confidence through strong procedural controls
  • Encourage loyalty and professionalism in your security force
  • Use tried and tested security equipment with which your staff can identify and understand
  • Encourage sense of ownership, nosiness, concern and corporate identity

Best physical security

Even the best  physical security equipment is ineffective without the procedures to get the best out of its qualities.  The reverse is also true.  Security staff are often the weakest link; they fail more often, are usually less reliable and need to be motivated and paid each month.  The key to an efficient security system is to use robust and effective equipment, which reduces the need for lots of security staff.  These fewer staff can then be paid more to entice the best to work in your business.   The cost of equipment can be spread over several years; staff, on the other hand, require pay, pensions and national insurance payments every month.

Purchase of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) equipment and the security architecture should match the threat now and that predicted for the next five years.  A quiet, small garment factory in a rural setting will not need much physical internal or external security.  A large factory on a city industrial site producing bespoke parts for UAVs that are operational in Syria faces a very different level of threat.  If a terrorist wanted to attack the latter, would he try to walk in wearing a suicide vest, which he would detonate on first contact?  I suspect not.  Much more likely that he would use a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs).  Less obvious but equally terrorising, schools which educate large numbers of children from Armed Forces families may need to consider their vulnerability.  Pedestrianised areas of busy shops down which vehicles could travel would provide attractive targets at busy times. Theatre areas and entertainment centres, petrol stations in city centres of high-rise buildings, civic centres, areas of financial commerce and all transport hubs should be protected.  Shopping Malls that have regular deliveries from large vehicles are particularly vulnerable if they have inadequate security systems.

SSF100 super shallow static bollards

SSF100 super shallow static Bollards

Impact rated HVM equipment is a once in 10-year purchase, the cost of servicing is minimal and the confidence gained in knowing that one’s business and personnel are well protected is very satisfying.  It may also reduce the company’s annual guarding bill.  For best effect, always ensure the equipment is independently crash tested and installed as part of an integrated security system.