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‘Step Change’ call to action

The UK official counter-terror police have brought out a ‘Step Change call to action‘, and listed some 25 wide-ranging projects – with perhaps even more to come – where the authorities want UK private security and private sector input, ‘to enhance the protective security of the UK’.

The projects are under five headings: crowded places (such as retail malls, sports stadia, pubs and clubs), security and resilience, transport, cyber-security (including banking) and travel and tourism.

Under transport, for example, projects include training guard forces, writing protective security requirements into service contracts, and (against the insider threat) vetting – and doing refresher vetting – of cruise, maritime ‘and other sectors’, towards a British Standard.

If interested, make an expression of interest online by May 25: visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/nctpstepchange. Or email stepchange@met.police.uk.

Some of the projects are already part of the work of the official CPNI (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure), such as how to create a ‘security culture‘ in non-security workforces, and how to motivate static guard forces doing routine and perhaps repetitive work at (for example) power stations. Also, ‘crowded places’ and resilience have for years been accepted terms in security and risk management. For instance, one project seeks to review ‘governance around crowded places to establish gaps’, and a proposal to create a ‘single national brand … as the single point of access into protective security that will provide timely, detailed and authoritative information and products’. The UK authorities recently brought in the term ‘ACT’ (Action Counters Terrorism), for example to tell the public that if you’ve seen or heard something that could suggest a terrorist threat to the UK do not ignore it, report it.

As for the security guarding sector, one project suggests considering ‘if apprenticeship funding could be integrated within a professional development model’, which could mean ‘bespoke, accredited counter-terrorism qualifications’. The SIA is carrying out a trial with Police Scotland to run security guarding-specific Project Griffin training on counter-terror awareness, that could become an added part of the four-day SIA licence application training; as SIA chief exec Alan Clamp suggested in a talk at the SCTX 2018 event at London Olympia.

As for cyber, the authorities propose a cadre of ‘cyber protect’ volunteer officers, possibly through the Special Constabulary. As that implies, all the projects require volunteers. A six-page document launching the ‘call to action says ‘there is no funding stream attacjed to the Step Change Programme’. On the bugbear of any partnering between public and private sector – the ethics, any hint of conflicts of interest, that businesses are gaining from their closer contact with the state – the document adds that projects will be reviewed ‘to ensure that no inappropriate commercial advantages are being created within industry or elsewhere’.

Projects also propose more travel advice to industry and the public; cyber insurance products for small business (that can show a ‘raised level of cyber protection’, in exchange); accreditation for ‘Expo dog handlers’; making more of CSAS, the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, whereby guard forces (whether on a campus, run by a housing association or local government, or a contract guarding firm) are given police-style powers; and a more developed ‘information and engagement hub’ so that private security people are well briefed on terrorism.

Under the banner of ‘Step Change’ – set up by UK Government after the 2017 terror attacks in London and Manchester – an ‘Industry Engagement Group’ (IEG) has been set up and two ‘Step Change Summits’ run, the most recent (heavily over-subscribed) one in February at the London Stadium. As the call to action document put it, after the 2017 attacks ‘it was widely recognised that there had to be a significant shift in the delivery of protective security across the UK, and that this could only be achieved through a tri-partite approach of government, police and private sector’.

For the call to action six-page document visit the Nactso (National Counter Terrorism Security Office) website.


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