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Safety first

FM plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and protection of any visitors to a building, whether a commercial building or a public place such as a transport hub, leisure and events environments, or retail parks. What can FM do to make sure that visitors and staff are made safe and secure against any terrorist threats without negatively impacting on their overall experience?


Acts of terrorism create terror and panic, disrupt security and communication systems, and destroy property while killing and injuring innocent civilians. It is therefore imperative that organisations fully understand the dangers posed by potential adversaries, understand their motives and implement a smarter risk and threat based approach that utilises both manned guarding and technology.

This can only be achieved by working with a security services company that is committed to best practice and the highest operational standards, while employing well trained, motivated, empowered and highly skilled personnel.

Far too many organisations are seemingly oblivious to just how vulnerable they are. Just as worryingly, there is sometimes an inability to look at the bigger picture in terms of identifying the reasons that a particular organisation could be a target, where a threat might originate from and what to do about it.

A risk and threat assessment can introduce preventative measures and a comprehensive training programme will increase vigilance and reduce risk. Undertaking an in-depth analysis of an organisation’s activities, premises and facilities means that the risks can be fully understood and acted upon. For example, managing the security of a business that is American owned and based in the UK, as well as having facilities in other parts of the world affected by political violence or extremism, requires planning and contingencies that extend beyond a local perspective. Just as importantly, regular reviews of existing security programmes and measures are necessary to maintain adequate safeguards, as a security strategy that was relevant five years ago might not be today.

While this will require some organisations to closely re-examine their activities, it is only by doing so that they will be in the best possible position to address dangers. Some security services providers have in-house experts that possess recognised academic and professional qualifications and can understand an organisation’s needs and then offer objective advice about how to meet them. They can also complete strategic security reviews, develop corporate security policy and strategy documents, carry out risk and threat assessments and security audits, as well as train personnel.

In light of recent events such as the Manchester Arena attack there is an even greater requirement for vigilance training. For example, Corps Security’s Eyes Wide Open counter terrorism training includes helping personnel identify and respond to potential threats, while Operation Fairway instructs how to guide the public to safety in the event of an attack, carry out sensitive questioning and engage in hostile reconnaissance recognition.

Tabletop exercises allow key personnel who are assigned emergency management roles and responsibilities to discuss various simulated situations and when it is appropriate to ‘evac or invac’. Incident management training can also ensure decisions are made quickly – in an emergency situation there has to be someone always available on the ground to make a decision, as procrastination could lead to injury or even death.

Ultimately, training can only be successful if everyone within an organisation is given the correct level of education on this subject. As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. 


Security is an integral part of any facilities role. Facilities Managers are key stakeholders in the mission to ensure that people and property are well protected by the security services they employ. They utilise many elements and specialist security services both in- and out-sourced, to provide a secure environment in which people can live, work and spend their leisure time.

Working for the leading certification body in the security sector, NSI’s auditors see examples of excellent practice every day as service providers and installers continually work to protect us all.

Whilst the public understand the need and are becoming more tolerant to the presence of the security services, they are also very much aware that tools used to protect can pose a threat to personal freedoms. Unsurprisingly CCTV comes under the biggest scrutiny. A survey by the British Security Industry Association carried out three years ago estimated up to six million CCTV cameras across the UK. In the course of a day in a local urban environment a person could have their image captured by 300 cameras on 30 different systems, managed by multiple organisations.

Since 2014 the number of surveillance cameras has increased considerably. They include body-worn video (BWV), automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are now commonplace, and there is also the rapidly growing potential for wide use of unmanned aerial CCTV vehicles – drones.

In 2013 the Home Secretary issued the Surveillance Camera  Code of Practice with the aim of balancing the need to provide surveillance of public places with individuals’ right to privacy. The Code applies to the use of surveillance camera systems operating in public places in England and Wales, regardless of live viewing, the recording of images or information or associated data.  In November 2015 the Surveillance Camera Commissioner launched a third party certification scheme.

Under the Code, organisations such as the Police and local authorities pay due regard to good practice, ensure transparency and enable members of the public to hold them to account. For other organisations, the adoption of the code is voluntary.

Supportive of the code from the outset, NSI has been appointed by a number of organisations to assess compliance. NSI auditors provide an assessment of CCTV operations and control rooms to ensure that the 12 guiding principles of the Code are followed. These include privacy impact assessments and a robust process for image capture and storage. Adopting the code signals a willingness to be open and engage with the public and helps build assurance their best interests are at heart.

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner recently launched a national strategy to support the code, reinforcing the message that use of surveillance camera systems in public space helps to protect the public and keep them safe, whilst respecting their right to privacy. A strand of the strategy is focused solely on raising standards for operators.

NSI recommends that facilities managers in both the public and private sector encourage use of the code to ensure CCTV systems whether in-house or out-sourced, are managed to best practice standards. The self-assessment tools for the code of practice can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/surveillance-camera-code-of-practice-self-assessment-tool 

About Sarah OBeirne


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