Is terrorism a risk to events in the UK?

Globally, terrorism is increasing in prevalence daily. With reports of the latest incidents flooding our news channels, Terrorism is a significant risk that is not going away anytime in the near future.

Recent years have seen the number of suspected, or proven acts of terrorism, increase tenfold with densely populated events becoming focused targets. The very recent attack in Paris is an example of the devastation and chaos a terrorist attack can ultimately cause.

Targeting Britain

Britain is a targeted nation with the recent attack in Tunisia appearing to specifically target the British, with thirty out of the thirty eight victims being from the UK. The involvement of two British extremists in a suicide bombing in Israel is proof that terrorists are operating much closer to home than we may have considered, even when the threat from international terrorism is categorised as Severe.

Sadly, terrorism is increasing and British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned the public that the UK faces a severe terrorism threat. Safety at large and medium scale events, or anywhere where people are densely populated, are soft targets which require extra vigilance by staff and members of the public alike. Is Terrorism a foreseeable risk today? Yes it is.

This year’s Wimbledon saw security being beefed up due to fears that this iconic tournament could see copycat attacks mirroring those in Tunisia, Kuwait and France. This is proof that the threat of terrorism is being taken seriously by the Metropolitan Police.

Police patrols were also stepped up during this year’s London Pride Festival which sees thousand line the streets of London along the parade route. This year’s tournament fell on the 10 year anniversary of the 7/7 bombing in London which amplified concerns that a repeat ‘anniversary attack’ may take place.

Event safety considerations

Event planners have a duty to identify significant hazards and reduce risks to a tolerable level. Control measures should be proportionate to the risk and coupled with a clear understanding of emergency procedures.

An example of such risks, outside of weaponry, is from vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices which can have a devastating impact not only on blast radius, but from fragmented debris such as glass. Vehicles can carry a large amount of explosive and be detonated from a safe distance using a timer, be remote controlled or be driven by a suicide bomber. The UK has suffered at the hands of previous vehicle bombs dating back to the 1970’s. In Manchester in 1996 a fertiliser based explosive killed 29 and injured hundreds more.

Reviewing your risk assessments, security and emergency procedures whilst implementing strict vehicle access controls will minimise risk, particularly at service and goods entrances. Any vehicles that turn up unexpected or uninvited, should always be declined access to restricted areas. Vehicles that are allowed to enter should be subjected to random search, prior to the event taking place and gate staff provided with details of who to expect.

Reports from France suggest that vigilance by staff prevented terrorists accessing the Stade de France, as tickets produced by the terrorists were reported as being fraudulent.

Planning, preparation, briefing, monitoring and reporting of suspicious activity at events, plays a far more significant role for the event organiser here on in.