British Government Issues Guidance to Prevent Terrorists Using Commercial Vehicles as Weapons

Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) has issued new guidance designed to prevent terrorists getting access to commercial vehicles.

In the last five years, changes in attack methodology has placed greater emphasis on simplicity and ease of access, meaning that – along with knives – commercial vehicles have become one of the deadliest weapons used by terrorists across Europe.

The U.K. suffered the devastating effects of this change of methodology in 2017, when vehicles were used in three of the five attacks which took place in London and Manchester – claiming seven lives.

In the wake of these horrific attacks, the DfT worked alongside security experts from Counter Terrorism Policing to create an industry-specific guidance document to help transport businesses, operators, managers and drivers mitigate the threat of their vehicles being used in an attack.

The guidance covers aspects such as pre-employment checks, visitor and contractor access, insider threats, CCTV, and vehicle and site security.

The document also includes a checklist for vehicle security for commercial drivers:

  • Avoid talking about loads or routes with unauthorized persons (including over radios and telephones). Do not post information about your route or location on social media, be aware of your ‘digital footprint’, and take care to avoid unwitting disclosure of route/location through mobile phone security settings and geolocation of pictures. Discuss high risk routes with you transport office.
  • Lock and secure your vehicle whenever you leave the cab and keep the keys secure, including when unloading and loading, always follow company security policies and instructions.
  • Carry out visual walk around checks when leaving and returning to the vehicle to make sure it has not been tampered with. Report any irregularity in loading, locking, sealing or documentation to your Company.
  • When conducting walk around checks, think Security as well as Safety.
  • Never carry goods for anyone, other than the authorized load.
  • If you are forced to change your route, inform your Transport Office immediately.
  • If someone is acting suspiciously or something ‘doesn’t feel right’ either at the depot or on the road, report it to ACT, call 0800 789 321 and contact your company.
  • Do not allow unauthorized passengers into the cab.
  • Keep your phone fully charged and on you at all times. Store important phone numbers.
  • Be mindful of your personal security. Keep ID documentation and wallets secure and out of sight.
  • Beware of attempts to deceive, such as by bogus Police and DVSA Officers – Stay vigilant always.

Company guidance includes advice on security plans. The DfT document says companies should allocate security responsibilities to a staff member who has appropriate authority to make security related decisions and implement them. This person (or people) should assess risks posed by the company’s vehicle operations. Risk assessment should involve key business partners including customers, shippers, freight forwarders, carriers, security service providers, and insurance experts. The insider threat should also be regularly considered in any assessment.

Further, companies should identify possible solutions that will prevent one of its vehicles being used in an attack, collect feedback from drivers and consider the drivers’ needs and wishes in day-to-day vehicle security management, and undertake regular reviews to monitor results and progress.

Read the guidance here

Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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