Time for a check-up

While shopping centres wait for the return of high footfall, this could be the perfect time to review and improve your current security and counter terrorism strategies.

Over the past year, management teams and security teams in the retail industry have shown incredible resilience and proactiveness, continuously adapt in response to ever-changing restrictions but the end is nearing and before long shoppers will return. It is always a good idea to review security measures but now could be the ideal time to review and ensure that current security strategies are sufficient – both for today and for the future when retail destinations will be crowded once again.

The UK terrorism threat level was recently reduced to ‘substantial’ after a three-month period at ‘severe’, following a number of terrorist attacks across Europe last year. The ‘substantial’ threat level indicates that an attack in the UK is considered likely – like the Fishmongers Hall attack in November 2019.

Trevor Dyson, counter terror consultant for Axis Security, says it is worth remembering that potential targets are not exclusively to be found in the UK’s largest cities and real concerns still exist over UK-born terrorists returning to their hometowns across the UK with a desire to inflict harm.

There are other real UK examples – such as the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury outside the Market Walk shopping centre and The Maltings shopping precinct which closed down the entire city –reminding us of the impact terrorist incidents can have on retail,” says Dyson.

He advises that adequate security, surveillance and response plans should always be tested and updated by those who are responsible for the security of retail destinations: Now while we have a slightly lower threat level, could be the ideal time to revisit – test and possibly overhaul – the procedures that are in place.

The best way to manage risks is to start with identifying and understanding the threats and vulnerabilities, which will help you decide what security improvements to implement,” says Dyson, the former Head of Counter Terrorism at the City of London Police, suggesting management should seek guidance from their Local Counter Terrorism Security Advisers (CTSAs) located within each police force provide support for all aspects of counter terrorism protective security for specific industry sectors.

CTSAs offer free training packages, including a series of online training packages called ACT which range from raising awareness and improving the security culture through to preparing strategies to manage and recover from a terrorist attack.

He also recommends the ''See Check and Notify'' workshops – which were developed by the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure – are also very beneficial for those wishing to focus on hostile reconnaissance and have been designed for different types of people across an organisation.

It is crucial that your security measures and their importance is communicated across the entire organisation to ensure that no behaviour leaves a site and its people exposed. Having better security makes it harder for terrorists to plan and carry out attacks so consider what changes you can make and take action today so that our retail destinations are ready to welcome people back with even higher levels of safety and security,” Dyson adds.

This feature was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly.

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