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Protecting Business

15 February 2006

Working together - Reliance Security guards and the City of London Police

A partnership between the Metropolitan and City of London Police with the financial and business community is mobilising private security guards as police support in the event of an emergency. Frank Booty explains how Project Griffin is helping in the ‘war against terrorism’

Areport last year (2005) by Demos, a key independent think tank, Joining Forces: From national security to networked security, noted that 85 per cent of terrorist attacks in the world are against business targets. It also made the point that the private sector controls the majority of Britain’s critical national infrastructure – such as water, electricity, gas, telecoms and banking. Without closer cooperation between business and government, these economically vital services are open to future attacks.

“It’s time to dispel the dangerous myth that government has a monopoly over security,” said the report’s author Rachel Briggs, head of international programmes at Demos. “The unwritten, unspoken assumption remains that government leads and business follows; that government has a monopoly on useful information and intelligence; and that ultimately it is the state that ‘delivers’ security for the UK.”

In the aftermath of the London bombings and the subsequent abortive attacks, there has been talk about ‘community participation’ in counterterrorism. However, according to Briggs, little had been heard from the Police and politicians about the role that companies should play.

“Defeating this new brand of terrorism will require radical thinking about the way our national security machinery is organised,” she said. “The last bastion of secrecy will need to open its doors and find practical ways of engaging companies, as well as communities. Otherwise, we’ll be fighting terrorism with one hand tied behind our backs.

“Business needs to be at the heart of decisionmaking in a crisis. It makes no sense for key institutional tools to be staffed exclusively byb civil servants and politicians with limited commercial experience. A place on the COBRA committee should be reserved for a senior business representative such as the CBI’s Director General.”

Emergency support
The Report welcomed a number of developments including Project Griffin, the partnership between the Metropolitan and City of London Police with the financial and business community. Designed to mobilise an army of over 1,500 private security guards as police support in the event of an emergency, Project Griffin officers played a key role in sharing and disseminating information to London-based businesses on the morning of the 7th July attacks last year.

Project Griffin was developed to train security officers from the major City organisations, Westminster and Canary Wharf. Participants are trained in various disciplines so they are better equipped to be of assistance to the Police in the event of a major incident. Project Griffin has three strands:

1. Training Day: Security officers attend a training day provided by the City of London Police special branch; and presentations are given by Metropolitan Police explosives officers. This involves input on the current terrorist threat and an overview of the differing threats from other non-terrorist groups, and training in emergency services command and control, conflict and resolution, hostile reconnaissance, terrorist planning and cordons and associated powers.

2. Bridge Call: A ‘bridge call' facility for security managers is a conference call with information from the City of London Police force intelligence bureau. Using the ‘bridge call’ facility, City Police are able to update security officers on current threats, recent and current crime trends and forthcoming events. So far there are over 75 participating organisations.

3. Deployment of security officers: The deployment of security officers to work alongside police officers on cordon control in the event of a major incident.

A pilot scheme featuring five one-day courses was introduced in Summer 2004 and more than 500 security officers were trained and presented with Project Griffin certificates. The numbers are now reported to be over 1,000. Each trained security officer is provided with a high-visibility fluorescent tabard, supplied and funded by the Corporation of London, for use when employed on Project Griffin duties. The tabard has space for an individual company logo.

The success of the project is attributed to effective partnership working. The course has been designed in conjunction with other emergency services, the main security industry bodies, and banking organisations. Supported by the security industry, City businesses, and the Corporation of London, the initiative has generated interest throughout the UK and overseas, particularly in the US. The City of London Police is progressing with Project Griffin, opening its doors to the entire City security industry with a series of regular training days.

Lionel Nelson, general manager City and Docklands, Reliance Security Services, said, “We have around 700 security staff in the City of London and Docklands area, and around 20 per cent have undergone training under Project Griffin. The course is titled ‘Vital ground assessment to deter hostile reconnaissance.’ The idea of the project is to get security staff out of their buildings and outside where they can observe peoples' movements, not just in and out of the building, but walking past it as well.

“They are trained to be aware of peoples' body movements. They're also taught to remember that potential terrorists will be dressed normally, so spotting suspicious behaviour becomes even more important. Customers see it as an enhanced security service that we can offer. It also provides reassurance for their employees to see uniformed security staff actually outside their offices as well as inside. They see it as security being proactive on their behalf. This project has raised morale among the security staff. They feel more valued and stimulated in their work.”

He continued: “We recommend that at least one officer is on reconnaissance duty at all times, even when the offices are closed. This has definitely brought us closer to the police and they really value the intelligence we bring to them. We have regular meetings with senior officers to share information and there is also a weekly conference call with senior Reliance staff and police.”

Nelson reported one incident someone was seen crouching in an office doorway working on a laptop. Our security officer immediately called the Police and the man was being questioned shortly afterwards.

According to BIFM chairman, Mick Dalton, "In early 2000 I noted that many organisations were putting in place corporate security directors/managers reporting to the CEO or other board members due in part to the recognition of the importance of security in terms of top people, kidnap threats, travel and other security issues. These corporate security directors/managers then started to take over the day-to-day running of security, in some companies reporting to FM, in others to theBoard. It is so important that security is considered in an FM and a corporate perspective in terms of key personnel, threats, travel to countries at risk, etc. Paramount for me is for corporate security, FMs and the Police and security forces to work together in the way in which Project Griffin is trying to achieve.

“Project Griffin is an excellent way for the financial institutions, the City, security professionals, Police and security services to work in a collaborative way for the best of UK plc,” said Dalton. “I welcome this initiative with open arms."

Dave Wilson, president of IFMA UK, reported some concerns: “FMs are responsible for knowing exactly where staff are in their buildings. In some companies security teams report in to FMs, in others they report to the same management layer as FMs. However, I can see difficulties in establishing levels of coordination plus co-opting staff onto cordons. These staff may be employees of the FM’s company or of a security company employed by the host.

In one of his last public appearances before taking up his post as Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security at the UN, Sir David Veness (then Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at the Metropolitan Police) said, “We must not be complacent. It is imperative all sectors of the business community continue to actively review their security and contingency plans to ensure they are fit to protect their organisation, staff and customers. This ranges from ensuring CCTV is properly maintained and recorded, to having a robust system for checking references and other documents of would be employees.

British Security Industry Association (BSIA) chief executive David Dickinson commented: "Project Griffin is an excellent example of how the private security industry and the Police are successfully working together to protect the public. As an industry, we have long been aware of the important role private security companies play in towns and cities across the UK. The industry has built strong links with the Police and other agencies as part of the wider policing family and has been working with businesses to encourage them to take appropriate security measures for their premises. I believe that in the years to come the security industry and the Police will work together even more closely to develop other schemes like Project Griffin. This will ensure the Police will be able to take full advantage of the security industry's skills and resources as an essential part of the fight against crime."

With Demos’ words that most terrorist attacks are against business targets ringing in the ears, Project Griffin is one of those exercises which one fervently hopes will not often have to be activated in real life. “Be prepared, be aware,” is wise advice. “Endorse Project Griffin” appears to be an even wiser add-on.

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