There is a danger that during or immediately following an incident that we forget other risks that could have an impact upon us. If a risk survey was conducted now I would make a presumption that two of the top risks identified would be pandemic or economic crisis, this is by no means a criticism as this would be fresh in our heads due to the current pandemic issue we are all currently involved with in one way or another. Whilst we are focused on what is directly effecting us at this present time and looking down the tunnel to see if the end is in site, there is a danger of not seeing the peripheral.
There is still a terrorist threat in the UK, the current threat level since November 2019 is substantial, this means an attack is a strong possibility. It is important to remember that since this model started to be used in 2006 the threat has never been rated lower than this, although it has risen on a number of occasions over the past 15 years. Over the past decade there have been multiple terror related attacks in the UK, and several methods were used, these included the use of knives, vehicles, guns and explosive devices, and on several occasions more than one of these methods was used in the same attack. A certain level of planning would have clearly taken place for each of the attacks.
The current restrictions we are under are slowly being lifted in phases across the UK, could this lead to potential targets for a terrorist attack? Over the years the security services have rightly identified public spaces as an ideal target for terrorist attacks, the last decade has seen attacks take place on roads, arenas, transport hubs, bridges and a grocery shop. whilst social distancing restrictions are currently in place and are stopping large groups of people forming at transport hubs, shopping centres and sporting events (just to name a few) there are however still locations where there will be multiple people at once. We have all seen the queues outside supermarkets recently, this could potentially soon occur at other retail outlets from mid-June onwards, although it is doubtful they will be as long as the initial queues we faced earlier in the year.
Whilst the country’s security services are aware of the terrorism threat, and whilst emergency services such as the City of London Police are risk assessing areas within their boundary lines, other sectors should also have plans in place should an attack occur. The first level of planning should be a basic awareness of the current threat, this could be covered with;
Action Counters Terrorism (ACT), this online training/awareness course is ideal for highlighting the current threat, it is not just aimed at those that work in the security industry, but suitable for all.
Threat presentations, delivered by security professionals, they would give information on the current threat and may tailor the presentation to their audience.
Training, some companies may deliver training to their staff on the terrorist threat, modules may include hostile recon, lockdown procedures, escalation procedures and actions upon receiving a telephone bomb threat.
The three options listed are just examples and by no means an exhaustive list.
Many companies may go further than just awareness and have detailed emergency procedures in place, these could include emergency response, escalation and business continuity plans. It is good to have these plans, but the one thing all plans need is validation. You need to ensure they are fit for purpose and are adaptable, validation can include document reviews, but my favoured method is testing and exercising, table top exercise are a good way to test your response to a major incident and should involve staff from all levels of the company.