ACTION COUNTERS TERRORISM

An exclusive Corps event with the Metropolitan Police

Part 1

In February Corps Security hosted an Action Counters Terrorism seminar in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police. We’ve broken down the seminar findings into a two-part blog.

We were joined at the Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster by Marc and Andy of the Metropolitan Police, who specialise in counter terrorism and protective security. The seminar was split into two halves, the first focusing on what we can do as civilians and businesses in the face of terror. Our team, along with over 60 delegates, left the educational breakfast event with far greater insight when it comes to dealing with potential threats. They also left with greater assurance of the fantastic work being done by the police.

The presentation kicked off by reminding us to raise the alarm against suspect behaviour – much like the vast swathes of content that often circulates the Met’s social media spheres. But how can the police expect us to raise the alarm if we don’t know what to do? Marc set out to tell the room ‘everything we [the police] know, within reason, so you know what to look out for’.

The long and short of it is – if something doesn’t feel right, tell someone. That ‘gut feeling’ is effectively years of evolution giving us a signal that something doesn’t seem normal.

After a recap of the current threats, we were reminded of the most recent attacks in Manchester, Barcelona, Parsons Green, Quebec, Paris, London Bridge and Westminster. To inform the public adequately about the state of national security, the police are very transparent about threat levels. There are various threat levels in the UK, and we’re currently at ‘severe’ – the second highest, meaning an attack is highly likely. We moved up to ‘critical’ twice in the last four years – where an attack is expected imminently – and this was after the Manchester and Parsons Green attacks due to bombs being used.

What became quickly apparent was the fact that the police are constantly working with other organisations and updating their processes, practices and information relating to national security. For example, it was uncovered that there was not an adequate amount of major incident ready first aid kits available in London, so these were distributed to businesses around the city, and were first used during the London Bridge attacks.

It was then brought to the room’s attention that business continuity planning is still an issue. Many companies visited by the Met Police still don’t know what to do if they receive a bomb threat, for instance. The second half of the seminar was focussed on firearms and specific threats with Andy from the special firearms unit for the Met Police (SCO19) taking the lead and helping us understand the two worlds the police are up against, on the ground and online. After all, crime is often related to the internet in today’s world.

With lots of information to consider from the seminar, we’ve summarised the crucial tips not to be forgotten:

  1. If you get a gut feeling that something isn’t right, tell someone. Please don’t assume the police know already – they count on us to feed them information.
  2. Have a think now about your business continuity plan in the event of a threat. Don’t wait for one to take place for you to test your plan – hold regular drills. If you need information on how to do this, then please get in touch.
  3. Front of house and reception teams are often overlooked when planning for the eventuality of a threat. These employees are often the first people that police speak to for immediate information. They also answer telephone calls, so they could speak to a terrorist if a threat is made. Ensure the correct training is in place to deal with this.
  4. You can’t identify a terrorist by their clothing, ethnicity, gender or age, but you can by their behaviour. If you manage or maintain a building, carry out hostile reconnaissance. Criminals need to research their targets, so keep an eye out for any unusual behaviour and speak up if you’re not sure why someone is there. This provides an opportunity to disrupt and prevent attacks.
  5. Hostiles get their information from a range of places: online, on site and through insiders. Remember to always ask for credentials and change your passwords when employees leave and have had access to sensitive information regarding your building or business.
  6. Think about your post. Would your mailroom operatives know how to act if a threat was received through the post? Don’t shred envelopes or touch anything that looks suspicious. Call the police if you receive something questionable.
  7. Shooting an animal that is in pain through injury or a threat to citizens is part of an armed officer’s remit… Unless that animal is a whale or a porpoise. The exact reason for this remains unknown. So if you come up against Benny the Beluga in the Thames, you’re on your own.
  8. The UK is under threat, so stay vigilant. Don’t become complacent just because by the UK’s been under a ‘severe’ threat level for a long time. Remember that the police review this regularly, so it’s based on very up-to-date information.

Stay tuned for part two looking at digital footprints and staying safe online.

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