“By identifying simple things such as escape routes or structures that could provide good cover, you will give yourself a split second’s advantage in being prepared to act if an incident was to occur, and it’s these small margins that could save your life.”
The attacks in Paris have led to a surge of enquiries from embassies wanting to know what to do if there was a similar incident in London. Dave Varney of the diplomatic police offers some pointers
After the terrorist attacks in Paris, there has been a spike in requests for our office to provide security and safety advice at missions and that engagement continues. Even when the threat level was raised to ‘Severe’ in August 2014, we didn’t receive as many requests for our services as much as we have since Paris.
Now it’s personal
If I was to speculate, the proximity of Paris in relation to the UK has brought the attacks ‘closer to home’. But I would also look at the change in methodology we’ve seen from ISIS-inspired individuals, making the attacks more personal in terms of how and where they’ve carried them out.
By seeing attacks in the street, in cafés, shopping centres, restaurants and clubs, culminating in the multiple attacks in Paris, we have finally come around to thinking that it may well affect all of us at some point, whether we’re targeted directly or not.
With the increase in ‘lone actors’ using more low-tech methods, it’s less likely that any attack planning will be identified and we won’t necessarily see any increase in threat level before an attack is carried out. With the call to arms being given by ISIS leadership to use any means necessary in order to carry out their attacks, we’ve seen a more spontaneous nature to recent attacks.
However the last attacks in Paris took a more worrying direction in terms of weapons used and numbers of sites targeted, which was more in tune with the Mumbai attacks in 2011. Perhaps this was the final wake-up call for people to take note of the threat, but more importantly, to do something about it.
Run, hide, tell
If you have not seen it yet, all members of the diplomatic community should watch the ‘Stay Safe’ video (see information below). It states that incidents involving weapons and firearms attacks are very rare, but it explains what you should do in the event of a weapons and firearms attack within your building. It reiterates the message of ‘Run, Hide, Tell’, and emphasises the importance of being prepared for such an attack.
I would hope that you’ve implemented improved security measures and procedures in the last 18 months since the threat level increased. Now is the time to look at those measures and make an assessment to see if they’re fit for purpose and need improving or adjusting.
Duck and cover
However, with the nature of the threat, we should be looking at personal safety and security in all that we do; looking at our environment and being aware of our surroundings in the places we frequent. Look at your home as well as your business, but ensure that when you’re out and about, don’t take your personal safety for granted.
Start to assess your frequented locations and spend a small amount of time assessing the environment and structures around you. If you’re going to a meeting in a hotel, get there early and familiarise yourself with the building, look at fire exits and if you’re there on official business, see if the security team can reassure you about what procedures they have in place.
By identifying simple things such as escape routes or structures that could provide good cover, you will give yourself a split second’s advantage in being prepared to act if an incident was to occur, and it’s these small margins that could save your life.
At your mission, when assessing your security, you should be looking at your physical, personnel and information security as they should all link in with each other. However, there’s an increasing need to ensure you take responsibility for your personal safety and security while out and about, whether socially or for business. By planning for the worst, you’re giving yourself some essential tools to help protecting yourself, your family and your staff.
Please remember that your mission will have a dedicated security adviser, who can provide your mission with a security survey on your premises and give you presentations around personal safety and security. If you haven’t had any of these services and would like to organise it, please email our office: