How to respond to security challenges and risks in 2023
Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, the risks and threats we normally consider as “ifs” are now becoming “whens”. Here, we consider some of these major areas of concern.
There seems to be a never-ending stream of obstacles outside of day-to-day living that we need to contend with. Post-pandemic, social, political, legislative, environmental, and financial waves keep rolling in, and as providers of protective services, we are required to identify, predict, and manage the tsunami of issues.
Some of these will be an obvious external activity that impacts how we do business, others will be more internal as our staff face these challenging times. As responsible organisations, our own internal risks need to be addressed. Each of these elements provides a multitude of issues that need to be considered. The ongoing threat from terrorism is a given and considered elsewhere in this magazine.
Social and civil unrest
Ongoing civil disturbance and the increased activity of demonstrations and direct action. History depicts that during financial turmoil, recession and under political duress, it’s only natural that those with specific agendas exercise their rights to rally against a cause or for their promotion.
We have seen these present in many recent actions: anti-vaxers, COVID denial, anti-government/establishment and legislative actions, climate protests, anti-capitalist, and industrial actions etc., the list goes on. We have all seen and been impacted by these to one extent or another. This is not the platform to analyse the reasons why behind these movements but recognising that these will only increase in direct relation to the pressures that we are facing across society and business, security and protective services, must focus on our risk and threat matrices and response planning to these disturbances.
Sector specific crime
As providers of security services, knowing our own areas and the trends within is vital.There are always spikes and anomalies; however, certain aspects will undoubtedly need more attention than others. Retail is seeing a sharp increase in theft, and sadly there are also the incidents of abuse and violence, whether due to costs, or the fact that behavioral standards in society are very different post-pandemic.
There is an increase in the use of body-worn video in areas that we didn’t see before; supermarkets, DIY and other retail areas are now utilising this to combat the levels of threats faced by staff. Urban exploration and other intrusive crimes are also seeing an increase, some as part of wider demonstrations, and some purely for individual gratification and the following that is driven across social media.
We have all seen these posts, and images in the intel reviews we share, but as the appetite for this type of behaviour is on the increase.
Knowing our specific sectors and the challenges we face has never been so important.
Legal precedent and responses
Moving forward, the recent responses to criminal activities and the apparent lack of action to deter certain behaviours because it fits with the current social/political appetite will make how we deliver security more difficult. The current responses to criminal activities conducted during recent demonstrations and the failure to convict those responsible can only set a dangerous precedent.
While this may seem unpopular, we are seeing the actions of groups committing crimes, knowing that there will be no conviction or legal repercussion. Within the private security sector, we are already working with limited powers to deal with certain behaviours. This will only get more difficult while the outcomes for those committing these crimes are either minimal or, in some cases, non-existent.
Protect Duty, recognising change and improving the industry
There have been some excellent responses to prepare companies and how they operate in light of the Protect Duty that will be in place soon (hopefully). However, in recognising the risks that we face, the recent events dealing with the state funeral of Her Majesty the Queen sadly demonstrated that few lessons were learned from the Manchester enquiry.
operationally, the standards of staff being deployed across the capital, knowledge, understanding of the threats, (actually knowing what was happening in some cases!) and recognising the risks that those numbers of people in concentrated areas posed.
As an industry professional, I was saddened to see that a perfect opportunity to demonstrate we have moved on and improved our responses after the Manchester atrocity was not taken. Looking forward to the risks in the upcoming years, if we don’t learn from past mistakes, we are not going to meet the needs of the wider threats we face as a society. This by default massively increases our risk appetite, and we will be playing catch-up to the threats we face.
Staff support and protection
As the delivery of the services we provide becomes more challenging, our front-line staff need to be considered in these risks, the dangers they face and the impacts of the issues outlined herein: abuse, violence, stress, and other aspects will impact how they operate.
Mental Health has quite rightly been brought to the fore in staff welfare, and many channels are being made more open and accessible; support for this must be part of our response to minimising risks. This needs to be continued because without vigilant, engaged and well-trained front-line workers, supported in the duties we expect them to work in, we cannot look to minimise risks and threats and have the ability to respond appropriately.
Jon Felix BSc(Hons) MDIP MBCI MSyl
Security Risk & Threat Advisor