Securing the UK border at a commercial level
With thousands of migrants currently residing in Calais while making attempts to cross the English Channel, the government has begun to reassess its security strategy in order to better police the areas they are responsible for. At the time of writing the number of migrants waiting in the encampments in Calais exceeds 3,000. Every night hundreds of them attempt to breach perimeter security and stowaway in order to gain entry into the United Kingdom. There has been significant loss of life in their fight to get across the border.
A strong strategy should be employed by the border force and contracted security firms in order to combat the influx of migrants trying to cling to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and trains, to also prevent human trafficking and other illegal activities that currently threaten the United Kingdom. Currently, the UK border is secured by a variety of security measures taken to address these issues. However, the most difficult areas to police are the busiest.
As Theresa May recently outlined, perimeters to staging areas in ports should be secured with two hardened fence lines to create a sterile catchment zone. All persons found within the catchment area should be treated as suspicious. Advanced access control points should be placed at limited intervals throughout the fence line to allow access to security services.
Before the border
Security does not only start at the border itself, with security services now utilising CCTV systems in around the perimeter of the port at Calais. Although these systems are primarily used to detect direct breaches, this will provide security against potential contraband items being smuggled into the country either for criminal or terrorist reasons. With advances in technology, CCTV can now provide evidence in ultra-HD; ensuring prosecutions can be carried out.
Furthermore, to better secure the sterile area, the deployment of thermal imaging cameras at regular intervals along the fence line would provide a superior system to legacy CCTV to alert security personnel to potential threats. Thermal imaging is also an effective method used to spot intruders in darkness and adverse weather conditions, and can also be used at ports to detect stowaways and other unauthorised personnel. At the Port of Calais, this technology has historically been used to detect people swimming in the water who may be intent on attacking a moored vessel, but it can also be used on land to detect night-time intruders. Detector-activated CCTV can also prove useful in providing 24-hour alerts to site managers responsible for large-scale sites.
Looking in more detail at remotely monitored, detector-activated, CCTV which complies with the revised BS8418 standard, this is finding favour with businesses across the UK wishing to keep a watchful eye on vulnerable properties, out of hours, by linking in CCTV cameras and detectors, strategically positioned on the perimeter, to a privately-run RVRC (Remote Video Response Centre). In this case, should someone attempt to scale a fence, for example, they are liable to be picked up by a detector with images from the associated CCTV camera sent to an operator at the RVRC for review. If required, the operator can even issue a verbal warning through on-site speakers to stop the intruder in their tracks. Experience shows that this is a sufficient deterrent in over 90 per cent of cases. Of course sometimes an audio challenge may not be advisable due to the location of a site; however, in this case, an operator can covertly direct police to the scene to catch the unsuspecting intruder.
When discussing border protection it would greatly benefit the ranking security officer to step back and assess it as being built on three interrelated pillars. A weakness in any one of these pillars will, potentially, bring the others tumbling down. These are, in turn, prevention, preparedness and resilience. The large expanses of unmanned perimeter at ports and airports often pose a major security challenge, and in such cases fence detection systems, UGS (unattended ground sensors), radar or passive infrared detectors (PIRs), etc. are often deployed along such a perimeter, reducing the number of active recording CCTV cameras required to monitor the area.
The Iron Ring Approach
Protecting the UK border is of course no easy task, in light of the geographically extensive nature of it. Given this it is perhaps not surprising that we are seeing a diverse array of ever more sophisticated security techniques being employed in the field. The most visible are physical asset protection measures like perimeter fencing, security checkpoints and lighting.
A so-called ‘onion ring’ approach is often recommended for sensitive areas, which could be implemented in areas near to the Channel Tunnel. This approach involves the most at-risk area being strategically positioned at the core of a layered defence system, whereby several layers of security are used starting from the site’s perimeter all the way back to individual building security or main asset security in order to deter would-be intruders. The outer perimeter layer represents a key starting point in terms of physical protection combined with electronic and/or security patrols. Patrols with dogs can also be used. This approach is commonly deployed on large, sprawling sites with many separate buildings and elements, including ports and airports.
Integrating physical security measures with electronic systems provides an early warning and speedy response to potential breaches, especially for sites that do not have the resources and manpower to ensure that the whole site is being monitored 24 hours a day.
The security industry is working to enhance the performance of technology for screening heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and for monitoring the safe movement of goods from the beginning to the end of the vehicle’s border crossing. Threat assessment reports should be conducted for all potential penetration points in order to have an overall awareness of where the perimeter around important facilities is weak. Gates should be opened and closed rapidly and under-vehicle scanning can also be conducted as HGVs pass through security checkpoints.
Video Content Analysis
With the increased threat level that terrorism presents to the UK, security is paramount at every border crossing to be secured. Video Content Analysis (VCA), also known as Video Analytics and Smart CCTV, is the technology within video surveillance that analyses and detects temporal and spatial events. This can and should be deployed at ports or other border crossings to recognise repeat offenders and those on ‘wanted lists’.
VCA has many beneficial functions that can help security services to raise an alarm faster and more efficiently. Through the creation of ‘virtual tripwires’, perimeter security can be increased. VCA can be especially effective around the perimeter of an easily breached secure area. Securing a perimeter can be seen as one of the most crucial steps in any security plan; an early detection of a threat at a perimeter means there is more time and space available to formulate the necessary response, potentially preventing an intrusion all together.
Counter Terrorist Activity
With increased alert levels in most of the western world, a robust physical security presence should be deployed in order to reassure the public that all is being done to counter illegal and terrorist activity. The private security officers that have recently been deployed to Calais should never allow themselves to lose focus or relax a vigilant attitude from the task at hand of protecting a nation.
It is not easy to plan security for borders, where open and multifaceted spaces characterise the area in question, but the key is to have in place a number of security measures that can complement each other. Combining CCTV with advanced access control and physical security measures such as fencing, bollards, doors and locks, backed up with security patrols can provide an overall security solution that is effective and intimidating to would-be criminals.
Whether a border crossing to be secured is part of a larger publicly available site such as an airport or port, or whether it concerns the perimeter of these areas, careful planning and consideration is a must to ensure no unauthorised access occurs.
The deployment of advanced security measures should not only be implemented to stop criminals and terrorists, but also for the sake of commercial efficiency. Personal injury claims can have a large detriment to a business or organisation if individuals continue to attempt to gain access by high risk means. Employees, especially HGV drivers in Calais, are also being affected. The stress could impact their work but worse, their health or judgement while they are driving. Increased and advanced security protocols will give peace of mind to the transport industry.
The European security sector recognises the pressing requirement to produce a framework that can help governments and the UK border force, across the continent, to ensure that they have the right measures in place to provide the right level of protection to British citizens.
The British Security Industry Association is the trade association covering all aspects of the professional security industry in the UK. Its members provide over 70 per cent of UK security products and services and adhere to strict quality standards. For more information see www.bsia.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0845 389 3889.