The importance of incorporating counter terrorism measures

Alfie Hosker explains the increasing importance of improving the physical security of buildings and incorporating counter terrorism measures into the layout and landscaping of developments

Secured by Design (SBD) is the official police security initiative that works to improve the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings, reducing the opportunities for crime and providing safe places to live, work, shop and visit. It is part of the Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (PCPI) group of initiatives, which also includes the Police Crime Prevention Academy (PCPA) and Licensing Security & Vulnerability Initiative (Licensing SAVI).

Working closely with government, local authorities, architects, developers and builders, SBD looks to incorporate police crime prevention and anti-terrorism measures from the initial concept and design stage through to construction and completion of buildings and developments. This work not only covers the construction of new buildings and developments, but also refurbishment and landscaping projects.

Unfortunately the threat from terrorism is an ongoing concern with recent events such as the attacks on London Bridge and Manchester Arena here in the UK. Whilst the chances of getting caught up in a terrorist incident remain extremely low, it is nevertheless essential that the threat of terrorism is considered by those stakeholders involved at the earliest design stage of a development scheme.

The UK Police Service have a number of specialised staff called Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs), whose role includes working with the relevant planner, architect, engineer, security/facilities manager or other stakeholder across both new build and refurbishment projects to incorporate the relevant site specific designing out crime measures into the project. Where applicable, this work is also undertaken alongside a Counter Terrorism Security Adviser (CTSA), who will advise on all aspects of counter terrorism protective security. In addition, CTSAs are responsible for the provision of protective security advice to crowded places - areas where there may be large crowds who could be vulnerable to terrorist attack, such as shopping centres, sporting stadiums, pubs and bars or transport hubs etc.

As part of their professional development, SBD and the PCPA regularly bring together specialist police officers working in the Crime Prevention and Designing out Crime areas, ensuring they keep pace with changing patterns of criminal behaviour and advances in building design and new technology. DOCOs are recommended as a source of assistance by the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure (CPNI) due to their comprehensive, specialist training.

Both the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) promote creating safe and sustainable communities, encouraging pre-application discussion between planners, CTSAs and DOCOs and involving architects, developers and key stakeholders. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in place between CTSAs and DOCOs to support this measure and ensure they work together effectively to provide formal responses to relevant planning applications.

SBD is referenced in the National Counter Terrorism Security Office’s (NaCTSO) newly released and updated Crowded Places guidance suite of documents (November 2020), directing those seeking advice to the SBD website.

SBD has produced a series of authoritative Design Guides to assist incorporating security measures into developments. These guides advise on all aspects of design and layout that impact on the creation of safe and secure environments. This includes road layout, footpath design, communal areas, dwelling boundaries, car parking and lighting and they cover a range of building sectors, including residential, education, health, transport and commercial. The Guides are regularly updated to keep pace with changing patterns of criminal behaviour and advances in manufacturing design and new technology.

The guides can be accessed and downloaded for free from the SBD website.

Other PCPI initiatives support this work, with the Licensing SAVI initiative for example supporting the owners and operators of licensed premises in managing a safe and secure environment for the benefit of staff, customers and local communities. This initiative was developed in conjunction with the Home Office and NaCTSO, and assists licensees with their responsibilities around public safety.

Other guidance available includes ‘Protecting Crowded Places: Design and Technical Issues’, which encourages designers to adopt designing out crime methods to effectively develop safer and more secure environments. It also describes the role of the DOCO, how they can assist in the planning and development process and makes reference to the SBD Design Guides and award scheme. ‘Crowded Places: The Planning System and Counter Terrorism’ discusses designing out crime and advocates the use of suitably trained DOCOs as a source of counter-terrorism advice.

Physical security is important in protecting against a range of threats and vulnerabilities, including terrorism. These threats can range from the use of vehicles in the form of Hostile Vehicle attacks to the marauding attacker on foot. Consequently incorporating the appropriate physical security measures into buildings and developments across our communities can either prevent an attack or reduce the potential damage and injuries should an incident occur. Such measures can include but are not exclusively limited to doors, windows, roller shutters, bollards and perimeter security.

For most organisations the recommended response will involve appropriate investments in products that deter as well as detect; measures that will also protect against other criminal acts such as theft and vandalism. However SBD recognise that in some cases, whether due to the nature of the asset being protected, the function of the building or the gathering of large numbers of people associated with the night time economy, more robust security measures that offer better protection, are required. The key to this is to ensure that the products or services which are incorporated into either a new build development, refurbishment projects or the nature of the identified threat, are fit for purpose.

SBD recommends that the products are successfully tested and, where possible, third party certificated by a suitably qualified body, who have the relevant expertise and specialist skills to formally test the product to the security standard required to ensure that the product actually does what it is supposed to.

An example of this might be bollards, which naturally need to be correctly tested, certified and to deal with the perceived risk, which could be a 7.5 tonne lorry or car travelling at a certain speed or range of speeds. One such body is CPNI, the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure.

Whilst all security-related products listed on the SBD website have achieved the Police Preferred Specification standard for their crime prevention and deterrent capabilities, SBD has developed a specific area on the website listing security products that have passed more stringent security tests than those used for traditional residential and commercial purposes, products that may provide greater protection prior to or during a terrorist attack. All products that gain a listing on this page have passed exacting and demanding assessments.

In addition to the security measures incorporated during the design and build stage, businesses and organisations also need to ensure that their protective security measures and plans are kept up to date with the latest counter terrorism security advice, whether it is a town centre shopping arcade or an individual restaurant. This is essential in supporting and underpinning operations like Project SERVATOR, which is a strategic method of policing to deter, detect and disrupt a wide range of criminal activity from pickpocketing and property theft to terrorism and which also provides a reassuring presence for the public and the communities they serve. Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) is another such operation, encouraging communities across the country to help the police tackle terrorism and save lives by reporting suspicious behaviour and activity.

Though this article highlights the importance of physical security, it is essential to understand that this is only part of a robust protection against such criminal attacks. An integrated approach to devising such measures also includes business plans, continuity planning, supporting access control and cyber security measures for instance, which can all be identified and addressed by carrying out operational requirements, risk analysis and/or obtaining advice from a suitably qualified security professional. These must be continually revisited and assessed to update and mitigate any vulnerabilities which may arise and it is worth remembering that CTSAs are available to advise local authorities, businesses, organisations and professional bodies about counter terrorism protective security guidance that should be incorporated into their general crime prevention plans, advice and guidance.

The Police Crime Prevention Academy have developed a range of courses and qualifications to understand current threats posed by terrorism and extremist behaviour, understanding best practice to mitigate such threats and understanding the actions to be taken in the event of an incident. These are tailored to different levels of expertise and responsibility within organisations, and are open to everyone who is engaged in policing, security and supporting safer communities. As part of PCPI, the Police Crime Prevention Academy is affiliated with the Secured by Design initiative, so are the leading experts in delivering Secured by Design standards and guidance.

Contact details for police DOCOs are available on the SBD website.

Further information on the Police Crime Prevention Academy range of qualifications, which can also be delivered virtually, is available at www.crimepreventionacademy.com.

Further information on the Licensing SAVI initiative is available at www.licensingsavi.com.

Alfie Hosker is the Technical Manager with Secured by Design. His area of responsibility is the United Kingdom and International queries. Prior to joining Secured by Design, Alfie served in the UK Police Service for over 20 years across a number of disciplines, including CID, Stolen Vehicle Squad, Public Order, Neighbourhood Policing, Licensing and Crime Prevention. He also spent a number of years within various Planning, Highways and Building Control Departments advising on designing out crime and crime prevention through environmental design, counter terrorism, enforcement, planning policy and applications.


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