Planning for an emergency

David Varney

As the list of cities that have suffered a terrorist attack grows longer, now is a good time for diplomatic missions to upgrade their security, advises Dave Varney of Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection

The recent attacks in Paris have resonated with the general public in terms of how the threat from international terrorism might affect them personally. As a result, our office has seen an increasing demand for advice and presentations around security and safety from various diplomatic missions.

Is your mission ready for a Paris-style attack?
We should not forget that the threat level to the UK from international terrorism is currently assessed as ‘severe’, which means ‘an attack is highly likely’. But when we remind ourselves that this threat level has actually been in place since August 2014, surely our security and safety measures should have already been assessed, upgraded and implemented?

Surely, with such an incident as the Paris attacks, this is just an opportunity to re-assess what we have in place, dust our plans down and make sure they’re fit for purpose? Sadly, that’s not always the case and if you are now in a position where your measures and protocols have not been addressed, are you beginning to think how you might deal with such an incident as we saw in Paris?

Duty of care
My role as a security adviser is to help the diplomatic community in London to protect themselves. As a receiving state, we have a duty of care to protect you under the Vienna Convention.

The Metropolitan Police’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) has numerous resources to fulfil that obligation. However, with the ever evolving threat and changing methodologies of terrorist attacks, the diplomatic community also has to take responsibility for its own safety and security.

How PaDP can help
We can attend your diplomatic missions to carry out a security survey; provide you with a report with recommendations on how to improve your physical, personnel and information security.

In conjunction with the National Counter Terrorism and Security Office (NaCTSO) presentation, ‘Stay Safe’, we can assist you in assessing your plans and procedures should your premises come under multiple weapons and firearms attack.

Following an incident such as the Paris attacks, now is the time to dust down emergency plans and make sure they are fit for purpose

We can provide you with presentations on personal safety and security to help prevent you becoming a victim of crime, but I would strongly suggest that now more than ever, you not only take our advice but start to act upon it to ensure your security and safety as well as that of your family, your staff and your premises.

Complacency kills
Some sites will already have a good security measures in place and staff that are already vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

However, one of the problems we face is complacency. Now that the existing threat level has been in place for over a year it starts to become part of our everyday life. When we have no terrorist incidents during that time, we start to forget why the threat level was increased in the first place and our behaviours revert to normality and our vigilance diminishes.

Unfortunately, it’s only when an incident occurs, that we become vigilant once again. Once again we start to assess what we should be doing; asking what more can we do and wondering how can we protect ourselves.

Mock Embassy
Fortunately help is at hand. On 8-10 March, 2016, the diplomatic community will have a unique opportunity to attend a ‘Mock Embassy’ at the Home Office Security and Policing Exhibition at Farnborough

This will be a live, immersive experience in which delegates will be led through an exhibit showcasing some of the best physical security products and services available.

The event organisers have been working closely with our office to guarantee the very best of British standards will be on display. For information visit:

The UK security industry has a proud history of providing equipment and technology both at home and overseas to protect diplomatic missions, consular sections and official residences.

Visitors will see for themselves the many different elements of security needed to protect such sites. Throughout the day, a number of live scenario/role play situations will take place to help visitors visualise such circumstances as a ‘full security lock down’ and see how the UK Security Industry can contribute to its effectiveness.

Don’t miss this event. Come and meet me and my colleagues at the exhibition and see what products and services can help keep you safe. You can secure your place and book your ticket by registering via the following link:!GLF