How equipped is the private security industry to detect and respond to terrorism activities?
In the wake of the terrorist tragedies that have occurred both locally and globally, the issue of counter-terrorism has unfortunately capitalised a lot of our news. For the business world, it has raised two important questions – what can and should we be doing?
The detection of terrorist activities is possible, but takes enormous diligence, a very well trained security workforce and the implementation of a security management plan that is embraced at every level of an organisation. It takes a different mindset and requires a unique approach to physical security work practices.
Minimising the level of exposure to damage and the resultant disruption to business operations is equally important and also demands careful consideration. While the likelihood of terrorist attack is mostly unlikely, the ramifications of even a moderately successful attack could potentially devastate a business.
Any decisions relating to counter-terrorism security practices should be based on the risk profile of the organisation and the premises at hand. A security risk assessment with a counter-terrorism focus will determine exactly what, if anything is needed.
This does not seem to be understood by the local security industry. The approach to date appears to be that more of the same is the best the way to manage any perceived increase in risk – more CCTV cameras, increased patrols, perhaps an extra guard or two rostered on during busy periods.
This will demonstrate that the business is focused on security and takes it seriously, and that is a good thing. However, the implementation of any additional security treatments should be fully considered and have a strategic purpose otherwise much of the effort is likely to be wasted.
If CCTV operators are not considered at the same time as the new cameras are installed, what has actually been achieved? If counter-terrorism training is not applied to the security guard force, are they really increasing the level of security? More of something doesn’t always mean better.
For major buildings and critical infrastructure, it requires different attitudes to physical security and new levels of training so that those charged with the responsibility of protecting these facilities are capable and qualified to do so.
The implementation of any counter-terrorism specific security practices should be based on three key questions:
Is the organisation a possible or likely target of terrorist attack?
What can be done that would realistically mitigate the likelihood of a terrorist incident occurring?
If an incident did occur, what can realistically be done to minimise the resultant damage to an organisation and its people?
Based on what we have seen to date, local service providers seem to treat terrorism related risks the same way as they would any other security risk. And that in itself is cause for concern.