The UK retail industry can’t bury its head in the sand on terrorism.
A major terror incident is likely to occur in the near future; alongside transport hubs, event venues and public spaces, large retail centres are top targets.
Our police and counter-terrorism forces are doing everything possible to prevent an incident from happening. However, as some of the ‘lone-wolf’ attacks in the US and Europe show, not all attacks can be predicted.
Understanding the challenge
The main threat is to large shopping centres. From a security point of view, the design of modern centres increases the risk of terrorist attacks like those in Nairobi in 2013 and Paris in 2015. Most shopping centres are now open-air and large, with lots of entrances and exits, and parts indoors and outdoors. This type of space is hard to monitor.
The changing way in which we use shopping centres is also making security monitoring harder. The increase in non-shopping facilities, from gyms and cinemas, to restaurants and nightclubs, has seen shopping centres evolve from ‘a place to buy things’ to leisure destinations. Someone hanging around a centre doing ‘nothing’ is normal – making it harder to identify anyone whose intentions may not be innocent.
The silent army
Retail businesses need to understand that they have a huge number of people within their teams who are not being used. From cleaners, to maintenance workers, shop managers to helpdesk assistants, every person working in retail can – with the right information and training – be used in the fight against terrorism.
We have worked with the City of London and Metropolitan Police on their Project Griffin for some time. Project Griffin was created to empower communities to help protect their local area against terrorism. We have brought Project Griffin training in-house and our retail teams are being trained to identify threats and support security teams and police in case of an attack.
We can’t rely only on police and counter-terrorism forces to work against the threat that terrorism poses to the industry; they cannot monitor every high-risk target 24/7. It is down to every single person to keep their eyes wide open to possible threats. It only takes one person being alert and aware to stop an incident from happening. The sooner that everyone in retail recognises the role we can all play, the greater chance we have of keeping our businesses, our sites and our customers safe.
You can read the full piece in City Security Magazine (pg 2-3).
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