A new initiative launched in the UK on April 20 aims to get staff based in busy areas to play a part in protecting against attacks and show them what to do in the event of a major incident unfolding.
The move comes after atrocities in Paris and Brussels led to calls for more vigilance from all communities, including the business sector. The initiative targets sectors such as retail, hospitality, entertainment and travel. It builds on an existing partnership between counterterrorism police, emergency services and local companies.
The new industry self-delivery package has been devised by police security experts from Project Griffin, Britain’s leading counterterrorism awareness scheme. Project Griffin began in 2004 and specialist officers around the UK now brief around 100,000 workers every year. However, the new self-delivery program aims to reach ten times that number.
Announcing the plan at the annual Security and Counter Terrorism Expo in London on April 20, Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Wilson said that although the UK threat level has remained unchanged since August 2014, it is still at severe.
“The police service is working tirelessly to address the threat but we need everyone to play a part in keeping the public alert, not alarmed. Police can help explain what the threats and risks to different sectors are but companies are better placed to explain to staff exactly what action they can take to enhance their security and how to respond if the worst happens,” said DCS Wilson.
“Individual organizations have vital protective security information such as building layouts, security equipment and safety procedures,” DSC Wilson continued. “They have the local knowledge that could be vital to keeping staff and the public safe. This is why we have devised self-briefing packages bespoke to different sectors. We have developed excellent working partnerships since the launch of Project Griffin and hope this approach will help us provide many more eyes and ears to assist the police.”
“Companies who meet the criteria should contact us and we will work with their training teams to ensure they have all that they need to deliver Project Griffin approved training themselves.”
Many businesses have already pledged to take part in the self-briefing program. Organizations signing up to the initiative need to be public limited companies and have a team of qualified trainers. Priority will be given to those who operate in a crowded place, such as a city center, sporting or entertainment complex.
UK police will continue to offer the briefings for smaller organizations in priority areas who do not have their own training teams.
The United States has launched similar efforts to increase public involvement in counterterrorism efforts. For example, the nationwide campaign, “If you See Something, Say Something" was created by New York City’s Metropolitan Transporation Agency and later licensed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to raise public awareness of the indicators of terrorism, and the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement.
“If You See Something, Say Something” emphasizes the importance of how informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping the nation safe. The public is instructed to report suspicious behavior, and then law enforcement determine whether that behavior warrants investigation.
The campaign description states, “Across the nation, we’re all part of communities. In cities, on farms, and in the suburbs, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, colleagues, family, and friends. It’s easy to take for granted the routine moments in our every day—going to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. But your every day is different than your neighbor’s—filled with the moments that make it uniquely yours. So if you see something you know shouldn’t be there—or someone’s behavior that doesn’t seem quite right—say something. Because only you know what’s supposed to be in your everyday.”
Campaign partners play an instrumental role in increasing awareness by aligning their public safety messaging with the campaign’s messages and distributing outreach materials. Most recently, Homeland Security Today reported on the campaign’s partnership with NASCAR, highlighting DHS’s continued efforts to partner with the sports industry to ensure the safety and security of employees, players and fans.
DHS plans to continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign nationally to raise awareness among America’s businesses, communities, and citizens about how they can remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the United States safe.