Urban threats are becoming increasingly commonplace in today’s modern world. With attacks taking place in areas where large volumes of the public are gathered – be it on a public transport network, going about their daily lives in a big city, or attending a high-profile event, we live in a society where security is continually being challenged.
As we have seen over the past few years, terror threats and attacks have taken place at events such as the Boston Marathon in 2013, a concert at the Bataclan Theatre and Stade de France in Paris in 2015, a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016, and most recently at the Manchester Arena and in Las Vegas this year.
The change in terror tactics and the increase of ‘vehicle as weapon’ attacks, present security professionals with a number of challenges and some current security measures have become ineffective at protecting against this new type of threat posed. Some of the most recent terror attacks which have taken place have involved both vehicle and knife attacks such as the Westminster and London Bridge and Borough Market incidents earlier this year. This combination of threats again presents challenges for those securing events as there are multiple threats to consider when creating and implementing their security strategy.
When considering how to secure your event one of the most effective ways of deterring a threat is ensuring that the perimeter is secure. While it is likely that an event space already has some form of perimeter protection, new advances in technology and design means that barriers are able to provide suitable protection against threats from vehicle attacks.
Vehicle mitigation barriers in the UK are required to have been tested to the PAS 68 standard, which is the specification which barriers are tested against – including the vehicle type, test mass, and impact speed. As ‘vehicle as weapon’ attacks increase, current security barriers need to be updated to provide suitable mitigation against vehicle attacks.
Concrete bollards are commonly used to protect a perimeter, yet researchers in Germany found concrete barriers to be ineffective at providing defence against vehicles. Aside from being largely ineffective, they also require a large amount of preparation work to be installed, especially if a permanent solution isn’t required.
Vehicle mitigation barriers, such as TERRABLOCK, come flat-packed and can be installed rapidly as they require no foundations. Filled with either earth from the surrounding area where possible or a ballast bag, an anti-climb mesh is used to make the structure, providing additional protection.
For temporary event spaces, a permanent security solution is often not viable, which is where flat-packed barriers can be used to provide the required level of protection without the need for a disruptive installation period.
There is also the decision to be made as to where the perimeter should be established at an event. With many attacks taking place in areas just outside of where perimeter protection has been installed, as was the case with the Manchester Arena bomb attack which occurred as people exited the venue. A perimeter barrier needs to be installed to provide protection not just around the immediate event space, but within its vicinity too.
Front-line Staff Education and Protection
While securing the perimeter is fundamental to security, if it does become exposed, adequate staff protection needs to be in place for those on the front line who are in charge of protecting the public.
Ballistic resistant body armour is able to provide a high-level of protection, and as it is light to wear, and concealable, it provides discreet and comfortable defence against further threats if confronted.
Alongside physical protection, there is also the need to ensure that staff are adequately educated on identifying potential threats and the process to follow if they spot something untoward. The Stay Safe initiative advises the ‘run, hide, tell’ policy, although it is also recommended that as an event organiser, that you have a process staff should follow for evacuating an area safely if a terror threat is identified.
The Government threat level is there to advise event organisers and those tasked with securing critical infrastructure and events as to the security measures they need to implement. The following guidance is given:
• Critical – an attack is expected imminently
• Severe – an attack is highly likely
• Substantial – an attack is a strong possibility
• Moderate – an attack is possible but not likely
• Low – an attack is unlikely
Using this scale, event organisers are able to determine how likely an attack is according to the Government, and the security measures which need to be implemented to prevent an attack.
No guarantee can be made where security is concerned. However, ensuring that your security strategy uses the latest vehicle mitigation barriers and that staff are actively educated on identifying threats and securing an area, it can help to deter attacks from taking place, and mitigate the damage if they do occur.
Adam Wilding-Webb joined Hesco in 2017 as the High Security Product Director, leading the development and implementation of the Hesco range of High Security products.
Initially working in a technical role Adam has spent over 10 years in leadership roles across the security and defence sector, within multiple industries across the world.
Go to hesco.com for more information.