Project Duty

By Andrew Robins associate director of security and risk at Incentive FM

The terrorist threat we currently face is multifaceted, diverse, and continually evolving. Since March 2017, UK police and security services have foiled 27 plots.  The attacks we have seen in the UK, particularly since 2017, have caused deaths and casualties amongst people going about their everyday business, often in retail destinations. The Protect Duty Act will take into consideration recommendations from the Manchester Arena inquiry and from the wider public/industry consultation last year.

The new legislation is likely to be announced in the Queens Speech at the opening of parliament and is likely to become law later this year.  Landlords and their service providers will have a statutory duty to protect life and property and will need to ensure that there are sufficient resources, staff are competent and trained. Landlords and service providers will need to ensure security policies and procedures are in place, that are current and rehearsed. 

Those managing security teams employed to safeguard locations falling under the remit of the Protect Duty will need to methodically review their training schedules. They will also need to provide evidence that all third-party security staff have the requisite skillsets before the signing of any contract.

Though various agencies in the UK such as Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) provide eLearning courses, these should supplement the training of security personnel, not form the basis of it. Practical ‘prevent and respond’ training, encompassing first aid and physical restraint techniques should take priority and be completed regularly. We are witnessing this with the Security Industry Authority Upskilling for Security Officers.

Many public venues and spaces that attract large crowds, such as shopping centres, music concerts and sports events, continue to experience large, external queues with measures such as temperature checks taking place at entrances. This creates an opportunity for terrorists who would use vehicles as weapons.   Significant consideration must be given to this threat and carefully planned anti-terror measures, such as the installation of temporary, approved perimeter security solutions, may be necessary.

It is expected that the Protect Duty will recommend that initial risk assessments be followed by the creation of a ‘Protect Plan’. These plans will be developed to identify measures that mitigate risks and vulnerabilities, be regularly assessed, and reviewed, and be configurable so they can flex with whatever the threat level is at the time.  

ACT Training is essential to ensure your team are fully trained.  It is also important to ensure good liaison with your local counter-terrorism security advisor. Consider the use of agency staff, who they are, what training they have received, have they had a site induction are they aware of emergency procedures, fire/evacuation and what evacuation processes may be in place.

There is much good work already being done by many organisations, However, in the absence of a legislative requirement, there is no certainty that considerations of security are undertaken by those operating the wide variety of sites and places open to the public, or, where they are undertaken, what outcomes are achieved.

This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.

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