In the wake of the Manchester attack (a phrase which has already been used all too often already this week), the UK Government has advised businesses to review their security and preparedness for a terrorist attack. Given that the threat level is “critical”, meaning “an attack is imminent”, it’s perhaps not a bad idea.
Their advice stretches to well over 10,000 words, and while I certainly haven’t read it all, contains some really interesting things.
Stuff like what to expect if you are caught up in a terrorist incident to which armed police are deployed:
- Point guns at you
- Treat you firmly
- Question you
- Be unable to distinguish you from the attacker
…which is actually perfectly reasonable, but is worth knowing before you actually may need to know it.
And the HOT protocol to recognise a suspect package:
The HOT protocol may be used to inform your judgement:-
- Has the item been deliberately concealed or is it obviously hidden from view?
- Does it have wires, circuit boards, batteries, tape, liquids or putty-like substances visible?
- Do you think the item poses an immediate threat to life?
TYPICAL Is the item typical of what you would expect to find in this location?
- Most lost property is found in locations where people congregate. Ask if anyone has left the item.
Again, common sense when you think about it. But… had you ever thought about it?
There’s stuff on what to do if there is a VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices) or a VAAW (Vehicle As A Weapon) attack (like the Westminster Bridge incident earlier this year).
These can be mitigated by deployment of measures such as Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) and Vehicle Security Barriers (VSBs).
There’s also section 15.10, which I reproduce here:
15.10 Vulnerable/Dangerous loads
Operators should alert drivers to vulnerable loads or high-consequence dangerous goods and issue them with a vulnerable load/high-consequence dangerous goods card for these loads.
- If a vehicle is stopped by uniformed officers in a marked police vehicle or Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officers, drivers should display the card and follow the instructions on the reverse of the card to verify the identity of officers from the police and DVSA.
- During security alerts, operators and drivers should follow the advice given to them by their local police force. (Keep up to date using news media, the MI5 website and relevant associations).
These are defined as “goods which have the potential for misuse in a terrorist event. As a result, severe consequences might ensue: mass casualties, mass destruction or mass socio-economic disruption.”
But… verification of identity of officers? The MI5 website?
Wow. It’s all very James Bond, isn’t it? (And yes, I know he works for MI6.)
We once accidently stumbled across such a convoy, leaving Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. The first indication that something was going on was the presence of several gentlemen carrying scary looking sub-machine guns, standing next to a number of black BMW cars parked at junctions in the countryside just north of Cape Town.
None of them pointed their guns at us, questioned us or treated us firmly though, so we continued, passing a convoy of what were presumably high-consequence dangerous goods as went on our way.