Security in the City together we’ve got it covered…
It is safe to say that life in the Square Mile has changed dramatically since the start of the year. Residents will have seen the COVID-19 pandemic reduce the normal hustle and bustle to a whisper as people have taken to working from home and many businesses have been forced to close their doors.
Now, as lockdown begins to ease and the crowds are starting to return, Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSAs) from the City of London Police continue to support our communities to help them stay safe while trying to navigate the ‘new normal’.
With much of life moving outdoors, CTSAs across not just London, but the wider country, have been working to highlight potential new threats and minimise risk. The pedestrianisation of spaces outside pubs, bars and restaurants; changes in where people are spending their time; and new factors such as the introduction of face coverings, queueing systems and pavement signage to encourage social distancing, must all be taken into account when considering public safety.
We, at the City of London Police, have taken a dynamic approach to tackling what is not an easy task. Through working with key stakeholders across the City, including transport operators, event organisers and neighbouring police forces, we have been able to enhance existing measures and put in place new ones to help maximise safety and security.
By working with the local authority, planning offices and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), security plans are in place for planned activities and events, with the introduction of various temporary and permanent security measures. But as the uncertainty around COVID-19 makes it necessary to continuously adapt and evolve our approach, it is only with input from residents, businesses and partners that we can do this successfully.
While public safety around COVID-19 continues to be a high priority for us, we are addressing other security matters through initiatives such as our partnership with the City of London Corporation and the Secure City programme. Through this collaboration we are looking at ways in which privately owned CCTV can provide ‘real time’ data and how controllers can be given greater power to deploy resources where necessary, and monitor and record situations more effectively.
One of the most impactful ways in which we are building relationships is by providing learning opportunities to businesses and members of the public. By encouraging people to undertake training, such as the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) Awareness e-learning, we gain more eyes and ears on the ground that can better help us to understand and reduce potential vulnerabilities and provide vital information that could help to save lives. ACT Awareness e-learning, which more than half a million people have signed up for so far, equips individuals with the tools to recognise suspicious activity, and to understand what to do in the event of a terrorist incident.
Another key tool available to organisations is See, Check and Notify (SCaN) training, which enables them to learn how to maximise their safety, and the safety of their customers and colleagues, using existing resources. This course advocates for the use of excellent customer service practices to ensure staff are visible, knowledgeable and approachable, and teaches employees to identify when things are out of the ordinary, and what to do when these instances occur.
We have also introduced a new City Silver role, which is delivered by a cadre of highly trained Chief Inspectors. They work in the force’s control room taking responsibility for all aspects of operational delivery, including spontaneous threat, harm and risk. They also take direct responsibility for our response to critical and major incidents. This ensures the force is responsive to emerging threats and able to make dynamic decisions around resources and tasking. The role provides visible, decisive and supportive leadership, and those officers are empowered to make decisions that best serve the needs of our communities.
In my last column, I talked about our trial of sector patrols to enable us to maximise our visibility, reassure the public and deter crime. These continue to be refined before we bring them in later in the year.
Through all of this work, we aim to ensure safety is at the forefront of people’s minds when going about their business in the City.
To help remind people of the importance of this, we plan to increase opportunities for our CTSAs to be in the online space, to discuss important issues, provide timely advice and guidance and engage with our communities there as well as in everyday life.
We all have to accept that life may not return to how it was before for a while. As we adapt to new ways of operating, so too do criminals. We are determined to retain our focus on our ambition to make the Square Mile the safest city area in the world. We are here to listen to our community’s concerns, provide the best advice and guidance available, and work together to create a more secure environment for everyone. When it comes to keeping the City safe – together we’ve got it covered.
Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland, City of London Police
For more updates from AC Sutherland, see all articles in our City of London Police category.