Demystifying Private Sector Counter Terrorism Mitigation

The Basics

Threats within the United Kingdom have been evolving over the last few years, Risks have developed that are normally associated with overseas countries and a distance news story, the private sector is adapting slowly but can move forward at a better rate of pace to keep in step with UK Government Initiatives using whats known as the Brain Game.

The private sector do not have 24/7 dedicated resources, legal powers and budgets to implement Government Agency systems.

The first hurdle for business is moving out of denial and removing any organisational barriers imposed by management, probably imposed due to their inability or lack of understanding for implementing counter terrorism mitigation, its a common problem and needs senior stakeholder involvement to kick start the process.

The following points have been effectively applied over many years within the international counter terrorism/hybrid attack mitigation process.

UK businesses can apply the same systems to support the UK Government & Police Initiatives, to create a ‘whole-of-society’ approach and deliver safe spaces for people to live and businesses to operate, it fits in well with the Protect & Prepare objectives of CONTEST. 

Its Not Rocket Science

1. Mitigation planning start point.

Businesses must understand their legal obligations and any localised responsibilities to do with councils and contractual agreements.  Is the private sector On Notice for these type of incidents? Walk through the process of being investigated and answerable through the courts – will you be liable and open to claims? Health & Safety Laws already cover these type of incidents; do you understand the laws? Understanding whats reasonable and practicable within your responsibilities will mitigate the business criticality if compensation and government agency investigations seek legal action. Does your business have None Damage Business Interruption Insurance for Black Swann Events?

2. Risk Assessment.

Priority document – The risk assessment team must be guided by an experienced security professional who has actually been involved with the risks and not an academic theory based bluffer. 

Keep It Simple & Effective

3. Security & Safety Plan.

Produce your plan detailing what mitigation the business will have in place based on the risk assessment and identified responsibilities, if its part of  an event planing process anticipate and explain what mitigation the business expect from Government Agencies, avoid the common misconception and poor planning approach of asking Government Agencies for their advice on business management mitigation, they are public sector staff.

Gov agencies are experts within their respective fields and will advice on their responsibilities and systems to implement from a public sector point of view, which revolves around the 3 main points stated in the second paragraph of this article, they don’t fully understand the private sector and business management systems.

Private sector professionals (stay away from academic theory based bluffers) are the best option for advice on business counter terrorism mitigation and understand what comes under the heading of Criticality.  It will start the conversation on a better footing and avoids poor and conflicting advice – Use the MoSCoW principle throughout the planning process.  . 

Ensure minutes are taken on all meetings with Government Agency representatives, all personnel who attend meetings should receive a copy of the minutes, this approach mitigates against poor advice etc etc.

Planning Considerations

4. Emergency Services Response Gap.

Prioritise mitigation to where the business can have an effective impact and what’s within your legal & duty of care responsibilities. Accept there will be an emergency services Response Gap and focus your efforts on that period of time (just 1 example). It could be 2 minutes or 15 minutes.

5. Staff Numbers.

Unless legally obliged or the budget allows, focus plans on utilising current resources (all staff), stay away from the increase numbers mantra. The above Point No 1 and the MoSCoW principle will keep this consideration on track.

6. Tool Box Talks.

Proven cost effective situational awareness training.  Use 2 to 5 minute toolbox talks to cover – Run Hide Tell (reality version); ACT, Citizen-Aid; Psychological first aid; Bye-stander intervention concept; Emergency services deployment methods (hot zone, warm zone etc); Alternative exits (unconventional exits); Invacuation areas with barricade options; Colour code system of awareness etc.

7. Periods of Chaos.

If an attack happens, understand there will be a period of No Control and Chaos, only individual actions by the staff will be actionable – focus efforts on simple plans for staff to action (point 6) without any higher level control until the organised chaos period starts to come into effect. This approach is called Mission Command and a tried and tested life saver.

8. Rapid Risk Communication.

Communication systems are a high priority and a Must Have.  Verbal communications is the number one method using radios, PA Systems, and face to face.

Minimal Extra Costs Involved


9. Effective Information.

All the above is easily achievable, the costs are minimal, and it’s all about arming personnel with effective information and businesses implementing a policy & procedure to educate staff and maintain awareness.  The approach builds staff & business resilience with the added value of mitigating other forms of workplace violence and assisting Government initiatives to create safe spaces for people and businesses to operate. 

10. Mind Set.

Think about changing your approach from counter terrorism and use the Phrase Hybrid Attack Mitigation, not all attacks are Terrorism and the above approach will mitigate other forms of criminality.

Businesses requiring Counter Terrorism/Hybrid Attack independent consultancy advise – Contact Mildot who are the industry leaders.   Mildot have also developed an IOSH Approved Course for Management, Supervisors, Safety & Security Personnel.

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