How to plan for a hostile intrusion

Apr 16, 2018 Industry News

What can be done to ensure maximum security in the midst of a hostile intrusion?

The memories of the Lindt cafe terrorist attack are still fresh in the minds of many Australians.

The siege that ran for two days in December 2014 in Sydney claimed the lives of hostages Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson. Gunman Man Haron Monis was also shot dead at the scene.

In April 2017, we also saw two teenage boys stab and kill a service station attendant in Queanbeyan, NSW. In June, Yacqub Khayre shot dead receptionist Kai Hao and took a female escort hostage in an apartment in Melbourne.

More recently, Melbourne has experienced challenges with violence being attributed to gangs, which saw an Airbnb property in Werribee trashed and public fights in St Kilda late last year. The Victorian Government is also reviewing its counter-terrorism laws and has installed city-wide concrete bollards, following vehicular attacks in the CBD in January and December 2017.

With these recent events in mind, what can be done to ensure maximum security in the midst of a hostile intrusion to a premises?

Planning for the worst

One of the key difficulties in planning for a hostile intrusion or terrorist attack, is that the perpetrator(s) will seldom use conventional methods. The attack is also likely to be random and chaotic.

The Australian National Security website currently has the likelihood of a terrorist attack on our shores listed as ‘probable’, though, which means the threat is scarily very real. Small businesses are easier to secure than larger ones, as there are less people to plan for. But every business should have a plan to counter a violent attack.

Rachelle Koster is the risk advisory partner with professional services firm Deloitte, and she says planning begins with establishing proper security and personnel culture in the workplace.

“Look at your building security from a theft perspective and assess whether you deal with workplace violence,” she said. “Develop a security culture in the way you lock up or restrict access to buildings, or even just take care of each other and know where people are located.”

Preparing for hostile intrusion is a lot like preparing for a natural disaster. Ensure that there is at least one person trained in first aid on staff, a complete and up-to-date list of all names and contact details on hand, as well as the contact details for next of kin.

An evacuation plan should also be put in place and rehearsed with the building manager or enterprise security executive in charge.

Additionally, Koster said staff should adopt the “run, hide, tell” approach when reacting to an attack.

“Run is about escaping if you can, if that’s the safest option, leaving your belongings behind. Hide is what you do if you can’t run, so find good cover,” she said. “Barricade yourself in, turn your phone to silent and be quiet. Tell is about calling triple zero as soon as you can.”

Security features

There are many new innovations in counter-terrorism which can be employed by business in the advent of a hostile intrusion.

Interlocking doors, for example, can not only strengthen the perimeter of your organisation but allow for the isolation of a threat away from staff and customers.

Reinforced glass, night service windows, CCTV services feeding live footage 24/7 to a security company and alarms (silent and audible) are some ways you can secure your enterprise.

There are new technologies coming onto the market all the time, both digital (like advanced monitoring systems that you can check on your mobile device) and physical (like steel, woven mesh and engineered doors and windows built to withstand heavy blows).

Seek out the advice of a reputable security firm to establish the best measures weighed up with the costs versus likelihood of attack.

Government guidelines

The Federal Government has information available that can assist in its Active Shooter Guidelines For Places of Mass Gathering.

The report outlines that any area where a large group of people are likely to congregate (shopping centres, large businesses, events etc) are targets for ‘religious and political extremists, as well as disgruntled or mentally impaired individuals’.

This report offers advice on; threat context, characteristics of shooters, their objectives, how to prevent, prepare, respond and recover, as well as links to other resources that can be useful.

“These guidelines are intended to increase understanding of the threat that active shooter incidents pose,” the report reads.

The material was developed by the Mass Gatherings Advisory Group on behalf of the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC), with input from the Mass Gatherings Business Advisory Group.

You can never be too prepared for the advent of a hostile intrusion, and these guidelines can help you prepare your security protocols efficiently.

Ensuring best practice in building management and security is a topic that impacts most businesses. Strategies for crisis management situations and the ongoing threat of terrorism will be some of the many topics discussed at this year’s  ASIAL Security Conference. Visit the Conference page for more information.