WSi News2022-09-21 15:48:35

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The UK government’s plans to enhance security at publicly accessible locations

By Peter Jackson, MD Jacksons Fencing

Following terror attacks at the Manchester Arena and London Bridge in 2017, and Liverpool Women’s Hospital in 2021, public venue protection has become a pressing issue in the UK.

The majority of respondents to the Protect Duty public consultation by the British Government, which ran from February to July of 2021, supported greater security measures to guarantee that public venues across the country were prepared for and protected from terrorist threats.

The Protect Duty expands on ‘Martyn's Law,’ a legislative initiative led by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, one of the Manchester Arena attack victims. The majority of the 2,755 replies received agreed that the government should enact stricter measures, including in public places, to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks. Currently, there is no legal requirement for organisations or venues to adopt security measures.

Important regulatory change now being proposed indicates the UK's new stance and level of commitment to public protection. It’s highly likely that with incoming regulation, venue owners and businesses will be forced to start mitigating security threats. The legislation, according to the Home Office, could affect approximately 650,000 UK businesses operating across multiple sectors. Although there is no timetable for the introduction of the Protect Duty, it is expected to become law by 2023.

Where will the Protect Duty apply?

Every facility or location that the general public has access to will be covered by this new legislation, which means that whenever members of the public are in a public space, someone or some organisation will be responsible for putting up security measures to safeguard them from a terrorist attack.

There are three focal areas where this Duty will be in effect: public areas like parks, beaches, and thoroughfares; public venues with a capacity of more than 100 people, like entertainment venues, tourist attractions, and shopping centres; and large organisations like retail or entertainment chains with a minimum staff size of 250.

Public areas are more difficult to secure, so the government is committed to discovering the most optimal way to work with those in charge of these areas to bolster security. It is essential to establish accountability for safety in such places while also considering reasonable expectations and the potential impact of the law.

Since it is impossible to prevent or predict all potential terrorist attacks, it must be assumed that any widely accessible area could end up a target. Therefore, those in control of the public venues should constantly be ready to behave appropriately at all times.

To help venues become ready, a strong security framework needs to be built by assessing the appropriateness of selected security solutions, systems, and processes.

Vigilance is key

Key recommendations for venues to be prepared are listed in the Protect Duty consultation document:

·        Be on the lookout for any odd or suspect behaviour and either engage the individual in conversation in a friendly and supportive way or report them to the authorities. They should be reported to the police right away so that inquiries can be conducted and, if necessary, action can be taken.

  • Watch out for any bags unattended or left behind.
  • Pay attention to security, especially online. Avoid divulging precise details, such as floor plans with security information, that could help a terrorist.
  • Promote and support a security-conscious culture.
  • Choose the right and appropriate personnel for each position in the facility. They should receive training to give them the confidence to handle any terrorist activities, should the need arise.
  • Complete and provide ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) Awareness e-learning
  • Establish a concise action plan that is consistently evaluated. What steps would you take if there was an incident in your venue or nearby?

Essential security preparations:

Four essential components of the framework should be taken into consideration by all spaces and organisations:

Strategic plan - A plan should be in place at all locations, and it should contain practical steps to lessen the likelihood of a terrorist assault. The strategy should be practicable, and in some circumstances, the police and other state agencies may want to offer their views before it is finalised. To make sure the plan is up-to-date and secure for when the public is present, regular reviews should also be conducted. If there are deficiencies in security arrangements such as CCTV, security perimeters, and security patrols, the plan should identify these, and appropriate actions must be taken to solve them.

This plan does not mean that every employee should receive security-related training, but it does mandate that every employee be ready to act quickly and responsibly in the event of an emergency or attack.

However, staff members ought to receive counter-terrorism training. A fundamental control measure should be adequate training, and facility owners should take into account the necessity for expanded training for individuals who are in roles that call for it.

Risk assessment – Making a risk assessment entails identifying prospective terrorist targets, attack strategies, and goals of a terrorist. It also entails figuring out potential terrorist motivations, their main targets, how they may attack, and potential shifts in those tactics.

Considering security systems – It's critical to think of security as a combination of behavioural and physical safeguards. In addition to putting in physical safeguards like fences, bollards, CCTV, and blast-resistant windows, you should also think about creating and sustaining a security-conscious culture. Everyone who is involved in the day-to-day running of your venue should be urged to use caution and acquire the necessary training.

Correct enforcement – It is insufficient to select a security product—such as fencing, bollards, or CCTV—and hope for the best. Make sure your system does not violate any other safety rules, for example, fire regulations and health and safety codes.

The government and police agencies have provided information and advice that organisations are urged to employ in order to comply. These will be very helpful in estimating the likelihood of terrorist threats to members of the public and staff at the locations where they operate.

The provided guidance is meant to make it simpler to view potential risks. This advice may change based on the site in question, its particular capabilities or operations, and the installed security measures.

Acting in accordance

Many organisations, especially smaller ones, are likely to be impacted by time and budget restrictions. Although the current suggestions include simple initiatives like employee training and ongoing risk assessments and preparedness exercises, compliance is one of the issues that this consultation is trying to solve. However, larger, more complex venues might need to hire a consultant to make sure the plan is adequate.

Government support

Firstly, the government is advising people to comprehend risks and attack strategies, take useful precautions, and be aware and prepare for incidents. The government plans to introduce the Protect Duty legislation to Parliament later this year. Presently, there is no legal necessity for organisations or venues to adopt security measures, however the government is advising organisations to implement detailed routines and be prepared.

Additionally, a new anti-terrorism app has been created. The International Protect and Prepare Security Office (IPPSO), a management consulting firm with a focus on counterterrorism, has partnered with YUDU Sentinel. As no government regulations have been implemented yet, those working in the sector can download the app to learn how to stop future crimes and attacks. The software offers instructions and training on what to do if you find yourself in the middle of a terrorist attack or other catastrophe.

This app was released on the 26th of July and includes the steps to take to deal with armed attackers, tips on managing crowd-control, and proactive advice on what to do if they come across an explosive device. It will also be regularly updated with new instructions and guidance if the government releases any further advice.

Taking action!

There are also plans to increase corporate and governmental involvement in the security industry. In order to comply with the Protect Duty, owners and operators of publicly accessible venues can consult with organisations that have a part in providing and supporting security solutions and get assistance from them.

It is more essential than ever to guarantee that the market can provide adequate advice, products, and services to everyone who requires them. In order to achieve this, the government should think about introducing new programmes to promote and maintain suitable standards, such as accredited training and approved contractor programmes or rules.

It is now well known that user experience of venues can be dramatically enhanced by sensitively-applied security measures. The general public is likely to feel at ease and reassured when they attend events where physical safety has been seamlessly incorporated. Finding the right balance between comfort and protection is crucial. And by working closely with specialist suppliers of security products, venues can be reassured that offering a safe environment is not as challenging as it may appear.

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