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United front

David Ward of Ward Security explains how sharing information is essential to counter the growing terrorist threat

The security industry has not stood still since the highly co-ordinated and devastating Paris attacks of 2015. A study was initiated by the UK’s Cross-sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) initiative to review the way it engages with businesses and public bodies in a rapidly changing security environment.

The CSSC was founded in 2011 before the London 2012 Olympics to help put in place a broad and robust communications and intelligence infrastructure bridging police, security agencies and the private sector. This is precisely the sort of structured intelligence and communications network needed to help manage situations such as the Paris attacks.

Without such a framework in place, it is hard to keep people informed and protected. However hard national and international security and intelligence agencies work behind the scenes to identify and tackle those who are planning attacks, it’s impossible to eradicate the threat of attack completely. That means the security industry has a duty to improve the way people are informed and protected in the event of an incident.

The study identified seven broad threat categories – business crime, cyber crime, transport disruption, environmental disruption, terrorism, critical incident, and health. These categories cut across several government departments, but through information sharing protocols with a broad range of businesses and security agencies, the CSSC provides the mechanism for communicating with businesses and the public, ensuring that security alerts are quickly circulated and acted upon.

However, the CSSC doesn’t simply operate as a way to disseminate information, it also operates as a way to gather information from the many sectors and organisations it encompasses. Currently it has 35 industry sectors with a distribution of around 14 million recipients. Information can be fed back up through the chain to the central hub of the organisation.

Community engagement is a vital part of a holistic anti-terrorism strategy, as is the need to be vigilant and alert at all times. Security needs to fully understand and appreciate the multiple ways that criminals can gather information, plan, monitor, communicate and operate. While it’s not possible to always second guess the new ways that terrorists look to infiltrate societies, those working in security can work with a mindset that questions every detail and aspect of the safety of buildings and people.

By not being afraid to report something unusual, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, we can avoid falling into the trap of not seeing something because it looks normal or has always been done that way. Security needs to continue to work closely with the police and intelligence services, sharing information through closed networks such as the CSSC.

From an operational point of view, the focus for security companies must be all about investing in the highest quality staff and ongoing refresher training. Recent terrorist events have proved how important the role of the security officer is in the modern world. Alert, efficient teams act as a deterrent and make opportunistic terrorists look elsewhere.

The diversity of attack methods reflects the diversity of opportunities presented to terrorists by modern society. This is the big challenge for security. The only way to respond is for security teams from different companies to work together to help keep the police and other security services informed.

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