In challenging times the public and private sectors pull together to defend our communities
In the UK we have a long and proud history of collaboration between Counter Terrorism Police and the private sector.
Alongside our colleagues in business and industry, we recognise that the old adage ‘two heads are better than one’ rings particularly true when it comes to defending communities, key places and national infrastructure from those who wish to do us harm.
It was out of this shared sense of responsibility that Projects Griffin and Argus were born back in 2004, initiatives in which expert police advisors deliver a range of CT awareness modules to businesses. Both are now led and delivered by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO).
Such was their success that they became a model for how CT Policing’s expertise, and business’s investment of time and money, could be mutually beneficial for both parties, as well as increase our national security capability.
We have come a long way in 14 years, and this important work will continue as we look to establish our new ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) branding with both business and the wider public.
As all good businesses know, if you stand still you are in danger of being left behind.
This is just as applicable in my line of work, and as the nature of the terrorist threat has evolved, so too has our methodology and approach.
We are constantly adapting to meet the changing threat picture – particularly in light of the emergence of Daesh (ISIL) – and that includes how we work alongside business.
We’re fortunate in the UK that as the threat tempo has increased over the last year, so too has the support offered by the commercial sector. Take our recent work with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), which I consider to be the ‘Gold Standard’ of how CT Policing and industry can respond effectively to a specific threat.
In June 2015 the horrific slaughter of 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia, many of whom were British citizens, shocked the world with its cold, calculated brutality. It also demonstrated the need for us to take action to keep the millions of British tourists who travel across the globe every year safe.
We had the messaging already, in the form of ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ and other safety advice informing people of how to spot suspicious activity and hostile reconnaissance.
ABTA information campaign
What we needed was a platform to reach this significant, but very specific, audience. Enter ABTA, who recognised the benefits of a trained workforce equipped with the knowledge to try and prevent attacks like Sousse from being committed against their staff and customers.
The result was one of the most successful information campaigns CT Policing has ever delivered, with potentially life-saving information being taught to tens of thousands of holiday reps working for the UK’s major travel companies, via a series of training modules, specifically tailored to the travel industry.
This landmark piece of work also provided a news hook which our communications experts used to deliver a major media launch, a technique which pushed the same safety messaging to millions of people nationwide, and delivered some positive news coverage for all the companies involved. The success of this collaboration has only strengthened our senior officers’ resolve to build stronger relationships with the private sector, for the benefit of all.
We recognise the pressures front-line policing currently faces, and we’ve reached out to those in a position to assist – businesses – to forge even stronger relationships and knowledge sharing.
It was listening to our private sector partners which inspired us – alongside partners from the Cross-sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) – to begin the annual ‘Step Change Summit’ last year, where the national lead for CT Policing, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, and the UK’s lead for protective security, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, delivered speeches together with London’s industry leaders to an audience made up of the city’s most prominent business representatives and police officers. Such was its success that this year an even larger event in London was held on Thursday 8 February.
Likewise, our continued support and collaboration with the annual Security and Counter Terror Expo held at London’s Olympia venue is a vital strand in our business outreach strategy, with senior officers in attendance at this year’s event in March to further develop our links with industry to deliver a safer Britain for us all.
Our theme for this year looks at how business can weave our protective security measures into building projects and security strategies, making our public spaces innately constructed to better protect against vehicle-borne attack, hostile reconnaissance and other terrorist methodology.
Similarly, how greater collaboration with business and industry can help police not only protect buildings, infrastructure and people against attack, but also to identify a threat before it becomes viable.
Our next major public safety campaign under our ACT branding will call upon everyone in society – business, private sector, public sector and the public themselves – to come together to undermine the terrorist threat against this country.
We are in a time of unprecedented threat, and it is only through our public and private sectors pulling together that we can hope to overcome that threat to keep our businesses, buildings and, most importantly, people safe in the years to come.
Detective Chief Superintendent
Scott Wilson, National Counter Terrorism Protect and Prepare Coordinator, National Counter Terrorism HQ