Security Lessons from British Terror Attacks
The recent British terror attacks near a London mosque marked the fourth terror assault on British soil in three months. These incidents demonstrate continuing trends in terrorism, with sobering security lessons. Today’s terrorists have shifted tactics from well-organized, large-scale attacks to super-efficient strikes executed by small groups and individuals. This change presents the dual challenge of more potential attacks and decreased likelihood of law enforcement infiltration. In addition, the attackers are methodical and smart, applying the same sophisticated planning as career criminals. Their ability to study and surmount security measures requires consistent creativity from protectors.
Challenges of Concentric Circles
For decades, law enforcement and private security have safeguarded property and individuals by creating multiple layers of protection, like an onion. This same approach is used for the White House and Buckingham Palace, as well as for special events, like concerts and award ceremonies. Each successive layer is more secure than the previous perimeter, with the greatest attention naturally focused on entry points.
“We’ve created our own security problem,” says Glenn Burrell, CPP, president of Sunstates Security. “These perimeters do a great job of keeping out attackers, but they create a secondary target.”
In addition, the May bombing at Manchester Arena revealed another weakness, changing the security game.
“Typically, few security personnel are posted at the exits,” says Burrell. “Now we have to think long and hard about managing exit strategies. For instance, we may need to create another perimeter at the exit to stop anyone from going in after an event.”
Responding to this ongoing threat requires less reaction and more analysis, supported by training and increased situational awareness.
Understand the Enemy. Security teams need to put themselves in the shoes of the perpetrators to detect and shore up vulnerabilities. These individuals prepare attack strategies. They study the protective measures in place and adapt their plans to minimize risk and maximize the impact. Security personnel should follow the same practice on a regular basis and revisit policies and procedures to curtail weaknesses.
Look for patterns. During Burrell’s service with Scotland Yard, he participated in surveillance teams that followed bank robbers for weeks as they conducted dry runs in preparation for a heist. Security teams need to watch for patterns and unusual behavior, calling attention to such individuals. This type of analysis allowed the FBI to thwart an attack against a Southeastern synagogue last year. The would-be assailants had been captured on camera and recognized during repeat reconnaissance trips.
Expand training and education. Both security and non-security personnel need to learn about the tactics of would-be attackers. The insidious and pervasive nature of this threat makes security everyone’s responsibility. Employees must also look for and report unusual behavior. Security teams, in turn, need to respond to, and communicate, with such informants to encourage such information sharing.
For information on how Sunstates Security can help your organization review and adapt its security procedures, please call us at 866-710-2019 or contact us.