The threat of international terrorism has changed the way the domestic security industry thinks about protection, just as much as it has for national security services. Whilst violent attacks and terrorism were once predominantly aimed at government, military or political establishments, an uncertain global political climate means the ability to rapidly lock down facilities has risen to the top of any organisation’s security wish list.

In reality though, just how easy is it for most organisations to lock down their facilities at a moment’s notice? Whilst all security systems aim to secure people and property from attacks or theft, the ability to enact a full access lockdown very much depends upon not only the individual components, but also the intelligent solutions used to oversee them.

The security industry’s foresight in moving towards much closer systems integration has already gone a long way towards making rapid lockdown easier to implement and manage. However, we still need to encourage and educate our customers on the potential for working in partnership with their neighbours, to present a united front against threats.

Connecting the dots

Those of us in the security sector can do a lot towards raising customer awareness of the potential for using a lockdown facility. Undoubtedly PSIM is now commonplace for many security operators and this is ideal for implementing lockdown procedures. CCTV and intruder alarms are perfect for automatically triggering access control at any required time.

It is all too easy for some organisations to make the dangerous assumption that they are at low risk from intruders or attacks

If a security operator is already using these solutions, it is relatively easy for them to employ lockdown using the right situation control software. However, security providers also need to be aware of customers’ installations which lack this essential joined-up thinking.

All businesses and organisations can be a potential target for attacks and we have a responsibility to make sure security investments are being used to their full potential to prevent this. Being able to automatically trigger an instant lockdown response is key. Reaction times in these instances can literally make the difference between life and death.

Project Griffin scheme

Attacks in recent years have highlighted a broader issue - terrorists and criminals may target geographical areas as much as individual sites or organisations. Recognising this tactic, and to help combat this threat, the UK Government runs the Project Griffin scheme which aims to encourage businesses and organisations to think and act together to prevent and tackle threats.

We need to ensure our customers have the right solutions in place to aid this approach. These not only help to minimise their own threats, but also make it much easier for various security teams to work in collaboration with, or in consideration of, their neighbours and the local and national security services.

Anticipating potential threats

A big change in the way security operators think and react in recent years has been the understanding that potential threats can materialise and become real very easily and quickly. Essentially, you can never over-plan to deal with threats!

Many large public spaces now deploy a degree of PSIM or fully integrated security technology
 The recent trend of terrorist attacks has been to target places with large gatherings of people

It is all too easy for some organisations to make the dangerous assumption that they are at low risk from intruders or attacks. However, if a facility requires security, then the site is definitely at risk of an attack.

The recent trend of terrorist attacks has been to target places with large gatherings of people, such as stadiums, bars/restaurants and entertainment venues etc. The rationale behind this is that these sites attract large numbers of people and require easy public access – which is exactly what makes them an ideal target for terrorism.

Traditional high security users

These types of sites can learn a lot from the security deployment and tactics utilised by traditional users of high security, such as prisons, hospitals, railway stations or airports. Undoubtedly many large public spaces now deploy a degree of PSIM or fully integrated security technology, which ensures that these systems and access control measures will already be successfully collaborating.

It still requires careful planning to achieve the right lockdown regime, however. This is an area where security experts can really make a big difference. Installing the right lockdown protocol is as much about design as implementation – understanding how intruders will move around a facility and what areas will prove to be crucial in repelling or containing them.

It is important that we demonstrate the importance of understanding the full picture, how technology can be used in conjunction with business plans and security protocols, and how this is something that hugely benefits from the input of professional expertise.

Communication is vital

As well as containing and defending against security threats, any lockdown process also needs to effectively manage the situation and communicate with staff and visitors that could be vulnerable to it. Whilst technology is vital in this equation, the human element cannot be underestimated.

It is always essential to align the implementation of any security systems with staff training - both security teams and all the other departments

In all the excitement, the triggering of a lockdown can also potentially cause a lot confusion, especially for visitors. Therefore, it is always essential to align the implementation of any security systems with staff training – both security teams and all the other departments.

Security operators need to prepare the whole organisation for a lockdown in much the same way as a fire or other emergencies. As security professionals, we need to stress to our clients the importance of fully training and briefing staff on what will happen and how they need to play their part when there is an intrusion or lockdown.

Working in partnership

With a noticeable blurring of the lines between domestic and defence security, the security industry is in a prime position to take the lead and show the market how beneficial our expertise can be in protecting people and assets.

Terrorism and violent attacks are a sad reality throughout an unsettled world, but integrated security systems are widely available and often already in place to help tackle these threats head-on. This technology has been designed to help organisations make the most of their security investments, it just needs the right advice and planning to make it lockdown a formidable ally and powerful determent against threats.

For advice on planning against and preventing terrorism threats, please visit the UK Government’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office website here.