2017 has seen countless attacks on the general public around the globe, with attackers selecting locations considered "soft targets" as an easy option to cause maximum impact, not only by the physical damage generated, but also in terms of the media coverage, particularly across social media platforms. The personal stories from those present when an incident occurs, and the accompanying images and videos from such attacks spread like wild fire across social media, and instills real fear amongst the public. The incitement of fear is a core aim of such terror groups and at present, this trend shows no sign of stopping.
In light of the various incidents witnessed recently around the globe, it would appear the biggest threats to our public spaces come in the form of either a Vehicle Ramming Attack, where the vehicle is used as the weapon, or the "Lone Wolf" scenario attack.
When a Vehicle becomes a Weapon
Vehicle ramming offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct an attack with minimal prior training or experience. Vehicle attacks vary in terms of style from deliberately driving into a building, to physically ramming into pedestrian's on crowded streets or in open air locations.
Vehicles can also be used by attackers to breach a building with locked gates, before detonating explosives, or simply used as the detonation centre itself, where large volumes of IEDs are placed in the vehicle, which is then parked within a crowded location and detonated.
Considering and implementing a Hostile Vehicle Mitigation solution is therefore key for both new and existing locations, to mitigate as far as possible the risk of such an attack occurring.
A "Lone Wolf" style attack can materialise in different forms, including using a vehicle as a weapon, as in the scenarios above, or used in a suicide bomber attack as was the case quite recently in Manchester, where 22 people lost their lives, and many more were injured at a music concert. Perpetrators of late have used guns in an "Active Shooter Scenario" style, or even swords, knives, daggers and even acid to inflict as much damage as possible.
In the Active Shooter or Active Killer scenario, the individual actively engages in killing or attempting to kill people in a conﬁned and populated area and, in most cases, there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Most incidents occur at locations that are easily accessible and in which exits can be blocked, or a clear exit path can be difficult to determine. Target selection is, ultimately, based on where maximum fatalities can be inflicted, in the the quickest timeframe possible.
What can be done?
It is clear that our beloved open and public spaces are increasingly targeted by terrorists. How can we improve the way we protect the general public with our approach to crowded space security?
Restrata recently produced a white paper focused on the topic of protecting crowded space, in which we asked the question, "Are such attacks preventable, or if not, could we lessen the impacts if they do occur?"
In answer to the question, we've outlined what we believe to be the key areas that organisations must address in order to ensure a security strategy that stands a chance of preventing attacks and ensures the operational team in place is prepared to manage any and all incidents effectively, to minimise the damage and loss of life if prevention tactics fail.
These 6 key areas include:
1. "Design in" security to incorporate safety and security in the very foundation of the property/project
2. Address the extended public space - what is being done to protect your guests/visitors within the wider vicinity? Many recent attacks haven't happened directly inside the venue or property itself, but on the periphery of a targetable public space.
3. Get "buy-in" - security of public spaces can only work if you obtain the buy-in of the public you mean to protect.
4. Be tech savvy - are you making the most of available technology to support your efforts and those of your security team?
5. Training - is your team equipped with the skills to prevent an incident or manage it effectively if it occurs? Major simulated exercises are a great way to run the team through a full incident and trial the procedures and processes you have in place.
6. Emergency response - as a business, have you considered the wider ramifications of an incident, the processes that should be in place to cover media and relative response for example?
If you would like to learn more about these key areas, as well as the wider topic of protecting crowded space, you can download our white paper here: