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A layered approach to public safety

A layered approach to physical security barriers is an effective way of thwarting vehicle-borne attack on Critical National Infrastructure and public spaces. Here, Iain Entwistle looks at some of the options available

Physical security barriers are designed to provide perimeter protection to a defined area and can control vehicular access even those driven at speed by people with wilful intent. These Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) solutions can be deployed around Critical National Infrastructure assets, buildings and public spaces. They encompass a wide range of products of varying designs, including bollards, track sliding gates, quick bi-folding gates and road blockers.

Vehicle-borne threats can be anything from criminal activity through to serious terrorist incidents. If terrorists choose a vehicle with a load-carrying capability it can be either packed with payload to increase its destructive force, loaded with explosives or, more worryingly hijacked and used as a means of attacking innocent people. It is not just premises that are vulnerable to these kinds of threats, but as we have seen with recent events, public spaces, where there are large numbers of people, are all vulnerable. HVM solutions therefore need to be able to withstand these threats, and there are several internationally recognised approvals that apply when specifying these products, including PAS68, IWA14-1 and ASTM.

Protection of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) is a priority for governments especially as terrorism is now viewed as a threat that will exist over the long term. CNI such as banking, finance, telecommunications, data centres, emergency services, transport systems, healthcare, food processing/manufacturing, energy and water supplies all require a joined-up approach to security. An attack in just one of these areas would cause immediate chaos that could potentially spread to other sectors. For example, knocking out a transport network may prevent delivery of medicines. It is little wonder that protection of these critical areas of infrastructure using HVM solutions has advanced considerable in recent years.

Protecting Critical National Infrastructure
Prevention is at the core of decisions around how best to protect the public and Critical National Infrastructure. One of the most effective ways of preventing vehicle attack, either aimed at buildings and their contents, or people, is to install Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) measures at the perimeter.

Criminals will use a variety of techniques to breach a perimeter barrier, not just vehicle-borne attack; false documents, encroachment (tailgating an authorised vehicle), duress or a combination of attack methods on the physical barrier using mechanical tools. Increasingly, and more worryingly, the threat of a vehicle-borne attack appears to be increasing considering recent events in London. When calculating the most appropriate HVM for these scenarios there are several specific factors that need to be considered – type and weight of the vehicle, and speed. PAS68, IWA14-1, ASTM and CPNI offer guidance and there are useful industry websites such as Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA) HVM Hub and Secured by Design.

There are other factors that security specifiers and architects need to consider, too. For instance, many vulnerable locations are public spaces, and so aesthetics, access, traffic management, health & safety and cost all form part of the decision process. The threats obviously need to be addressed, although it should be done in a way that ensures the public space remains open and inclusive, or that the premises don’t appear too fortress-like.

With events in London and around the world highlighting the real threat from vehicle-borne terrorism, we entered an agreement with Perimeter Protection Group (PPG) to supply and install their HVM solutions in the UK. The HVM products meet PAS 68 (British Standard), IWA14-1 (International Standard) and ASTM (American Standard).

Security works best when it is part of a layered approach, starting at the perimeter with Hostile Vehicle Mitigation measures. The next layer would be the entrance to the building, with LPS1175 Issue 8 Security Portals or Security Revolving Door. Meeting this important standard demonstrates that the Security Portal or Revolving Door can withstand a forced attack using a range of tools, should perpetrators proceed on foot past the HVM measures. For low to medium secure areas, standard Security Portals or Speed Gates provide a single-person authenticated entry that prevents tailgating.

In combination, this layered approach is designed to delay any attack as it advances towards the asset, meaning, ultimately, they are prevented from ever reaching their target.

The answer
Disrupting our way of life is something that all terrorists are intent on achieving. Irrespective of whether they carry out an attack, they take some satisfaction from knowing that more security checks, longer delays and a fearful public is somehow an achievement. However, careful choice of HVM as part of a layered approach can help mitigate some of these consequences and without being obtrusive or causing inconvenience to people.

The likelihood of a vehicle ramming attack is often underestimated, although recent events have proven that it is more common than it should be and when it happens it can have very serious consequences. Taking steps now by deploying HVM measures can harden your perimeter to vehicle-borne attack, whilst still maintaining an open and inclusive aesthetic as part of a proportionate and risk based approach to security.

HVM solutions are now routinely specified to provide perimeter protection for a wide range of applications from government, utility, logistics centres, data centres through to stadiums. Vehicle borne attacks appear to be on the rise, which is why a multi-layered approach to security is the best way of slowing and ultimately thwarting criminals and terrorists before they reach the intended asset. The key to choosing the appropriate HVM is to take a methodical and risk-assessed approach to determine project objectives and highlight security vulnerabilities. This is where a qualified specialist security consultant can provide further advice as there may be other factors that should be considered. Based on the outcome of this assessment, it is then possible to specify a range of HVM solutions that can form part of a layered approach as part of a wider security strategy.

Iain Entwistle is product marketing manager at Meesons A.I. Ltd.

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