It’s our duty to better protect publicly accessible locations
The Euros 2020 final was an event hotly anticipated by the entire nation, all eager to see the England squad attempt to ‘bring it home.’ Hospitality venues across the country were overwhelmed with bookings from groups of people excited to celebrate the big match together and absorb the electrifying atmosphere.
Wembley Stadium was all set for the occasion, with some Covid-19 restrictions still in place, the maximum capacity was set by the government at 60,000 despite the stadium being capable of hosting 90,000 fans at a time, to allow for adequate social distancing. However, it seems a large number of fans who missed out on tickets took matters into their own hands, storming the security gates on the outer edge of the stadium; overwhelming security personnel and gaining unauthorised access to the stadium.
Reporters from The Telegraph described the shocking scenes inside the stadium as ‘carnage,’ as they witnessed ticketless fans aggressively barging through the barriers with no regard for staff, ticketholders, or property.
In the aftermath, various parties have been questioned over their lack of control of these intruders, and this event has highlighted the need for the industry to reconsider the proactive protective measures used to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Now Covid-19 restrictions have eased, the UK is beginning to reopen. As such, public venues including stadiums will be prepping in hope of a busy year ahead to make up for the loss of business. Sadly, terrorism and random acts of violence remain a very real threat to citizens, and this event at Wembley Stadium highlighted just how important the careful consideration of protective measures by venue owners is to ensure the public can enjoy the site or space, safely.
In February this year, the government launched a consultation on newly proposed anti-terrorism legislation to protect the general public. The Protect Duty, as it’s billed, builds on ‘Martyn’s Law’, legislation campaigned for by the mother of one of the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack.
The consultation will consider ways of developing proportionate security measures in publicly accessible locations. The aim is to make it a legal requirement for venue operators and owners of other public locations to assess and mitigate security risks, to better protect the public. As it stands, there is no legal requirement to do so.
Publicly accessible locations are any spaces the general public have permission to enter. Within this, there are three main categories: public venues with a capacity of over 100 people, such as stadiums, tourist attractions and shopping centres; large organisations including retail or entertainment chains with a minimum of 250 staff; and public spaces such as parks, beaches and thoroughfares.
It’s impossible to predict or prevent all terrorist attacks, but from a security perspective, it is best practice to abide by the assumption that any publicly accessible location can become a target at any time.
Robust training and education are therefore key for those responsible for these venues in question. This will leave them better prepared to take appropriate action at any time. The consultation aims to provide a security framework, which will help them achieve this by considering the adequacy of adopted security measures, systems, and processes.
Vigilance is key
Within the consultation document a list of recommendations for venues is also included:
• Be alert to suspicious behaviours, engage the person in a welcoming and helpful manner or report them to the police
• Be alert to abandoned bags
• Be security-minded, especially online. Avoid providing specific information that could aid a terrorist, for example, floor plans with security details
• Encourage and enable a security culture
• Complete and provide ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) Awareness e-learning
• Have a clear action plan. How would you respond to an incident inside or outside your site?
• Periodically review and refresh the risk assessment
The framework includes three key points that all spaces and organisations should pay attention to:
Completing a risk assessment – This covers understanding what a potential terrorist’s motivations could be, where they might target, considering how they might attack, and how those motivations and methodologies might change.
Considering security as a system – Here thinking of security as a combination of physical and behavioural interventions is important. You shouldn’t only think of erecting physical measures such as fences, bollards, CCTV and blast-resistant glazing, but also building and sustaining a security-minded culture. Vigilance needs to be encouraged and the appropriate training provided to staff involved in the day-to-day running of your establishment.
Correct installation – While choosing the right product for the job is important, it’s essential to look beyond this and also ensure your system doesn’t conflict with other safety measures, such as health and safety and fire regulations.
To comply, organisations are encouraged to use information and guidance provided by the government, and police services. This will help them when assessing the likelihood of terrorist threats at the locations they operate.
This guidance has been compiled to help gauge the potential impact of the risks. These risks will be unique to each site and depending on the specific functions or qualities of the venue in question, as well as the existing security systems.
A ‘reasonably practicable’ preparedness system is encouraged across the board, this will ensure that all staff, not just those that work in security, are trained to know how to react quickly during an emergency.
Partners in crime
These organisations can turn to the government for advice on practical preparedness measures, understanding threats and attack methods, and how to stay vigilant and plan for incidents. A new digital platform is also in the pipeline to launch later this year, offering additional advice and training for users.
Several sectoral and regional engagement days have also been outlined in the proposal, which will involve updates and revisions to training and e-learning programmes. An app devoted to ACT was launched in March 2020, and the government authorities Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) are also providing advice.
Best in the business
Moving forward, there are plans in place for security specialists to work with the government and these businesses. Organisations that deliver and support security solutions will be able to provide unrivalled support for venues looking to comply with The Protect Duty.
At Jacksons Fencing we’ve demonstrated for years how easy it is to blend security and aesthetics in and around a public site. As such, we are delighted to see this renewed focus on integrated security in public venues to improve the safety of these venues that so many of us enjoy visiting.
More often than not, security really can aid the user experience in a very positive way. When visitors feel safe in their surroundings, they’re far more likely to visit again. It’s a win-win solution for all parties involved and it’s only right that it’s fully embraced.
Written by Peter Jackson, managing director of Jacksons Fencing.