03 November 2017

Putting the brakes on crowd attacks

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Terrorists are looking to cause the maximum amount of harm and disruption in order to attract mass media attention. Protecting people in crowded places requires attention to the vehicle management, urban design and architectural features of a space.  This means targeting high-profile locations such as landmarks in major city centres, sports events and stadiums or indeed public spaces that attract a high footfall.

While there is no specific intelligence to suggest a terror threat is imminent, the global reality means local police has to put safeguards in place where large crowds are expected to gather. As terrorist tactics evolve and shift, countermeasures also need to adapt to create resilience to different threats. One of the main considerations of counter-terrorism design is preventing unauthorised vehicles from getting too close to, or entering a site or building, and making sure that the integrity of stand-off distances can be maintained.

The Australian Government launched the Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism and has been developed in close partnership with the states and territories, local government, police and the private sector. The Strategy involves four core elements which provide a structure for building a consistent national approach to protecting crowded places that can be applied flexibly throughout Australia. These core elements are building stronger partnerships, enabling better information sharing, implementing effective protective security and increasing resilience.

Protecting crowded places from terrorism is not just a job for governments, it is a responsibility shared by the private sector and the community. The plan, called Australia's Strategy For Protecting Crowded  Places From Terrorism, was given to Australian businesses and councils, and outlines ways to prevent vehicle attacks similar to those seen in Barcelona, Nice, and London.

The success of this Strategy rests on sustainable and strong partnerships across Australia between all governments and owners and operators of crowded places, including businesses and local governments.

Prime Minister Turnbull stated: “What we've done with this crowded places strategy is we have set out a series of tools by which owners and operators of venues... are able to assess the vulnerability of their site, see how they can make it safer and know where to seek advice from police. We are relentlessly, tirelessly, working to keep Australians safe.”

The strategy is another impost on a very busy Australian intelligence and policing enterprise that is still absorbing the government’s significant redesign of its member agencies through the soon to be ministry of home affairs and the office of national intelligence. Yet the strategy has many merits that require further careful consideration and development.

Akolade's 2nd annual Public Venue Security and Safety Summit will bring together leading security professionals to explore the implementation of effective and practical strategies to ensure operational continuity of public venues, events and facilities.

Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.

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