Manchester today is experiencing unprecedented growth and is welcoming big business from across the world. Home to the largest office based work sector outside of the capital, the majority of which are city centre based. Large US, UK, Russian and Japanese companies have headquartered here, Banking and financials institutions also. Combined with a diverse demographic in its inhabitants, Jewish and Muslim communities twice the national average all making Manchester there home.
It can be argued that foreign policies and radicalisation of communities from all backgrounds All make Manchester a more than viable target for determined groups intent on disruption and chaos. We have witnessed Right Wing Nationalist marches, riots and protests, increased fear within the our Jewish and Muslim communities and the savage devastation of terror attacks in the 1992 and 1996.
Having recently attended the "Leaders Lunch" at Abode and listened to all the talk of "Northern Powerhouse" and "DevoManc", there is no doubting that Manchester has come along way in a relatively short space of time, and is potentially riding the crest of a wave.
What if that wave crashed right now? What if our great and beautiful city was decimated by an act of terror, another riot or long drawn out protest again? Does your business know what to do? Could it survive, if it was placed in an exclusion zone for a few days or weeks?
Saturday 15th June 1996 11:15am an estimated 1500kg bomb explodes in the area of Corporation Street and Cross Street, demolishing parts of the Arndale Centre, Royal and Corn Exchange's and Marks and Spencer and sending glass, debris and shockwaves right across the city including Deansgate, Manchester Cathedral and Piccadilly. Over 200 injured and treated in Hospitals, Shops, Offices and Businesses decimated.
It is with great fortune an estimated 80,000 were evacuated from the city centre in the hours leading up to the blast, thus resulting in the minimal injuries and no loss of life on that fateful sunny Saturday morning. 4500 business were directly effected by that single act of terror. The cost to the city in 1996 was estimated at £300 million pounds and over 20% of city centre office space was directly effected by the bombing and it was reported the Co-op had to relocate over 700 staff amongst other regional offices? Perhaps the cost to individual business was immeasurable?
The threats to our city are these days less likely to come from Irish terrorism. We are however in the grip of international terrorism, felt across the world. What would a Charlie Hebdo or Mumbai type incident do to our city? Or an attack on our transport infrastructure like 7/7 in London? The riots of 2011 paralysed vast swathes of the city centre with 1000's of youths rampaging through the streets and the Police being entirely overwhelmed. 3 days of terror costing the city millions and crippling retailers and office based businesses alike.
If a similar incident were to happen here again, what policies and contingencies does your business have in place? How will you secure your premises if it remains for days and weeks inside an exclusion zone? Its not just the computers, desks and chairs and paperwork? Most likely they are insured and they can always be replaced. Its the loss of productivity, potential injury to staff, and the psychological effect such an event can have on the very people who make up your business! Is following standard evacuation procedures enough? Can we treat a fire alarm evacuation in the same way we can for a potential terror alert or civil unrest? These require planning and a great deal of thought, 50 of your staff standing in the middle of the street after being evacuated could create all manner of issues, you could be moving towards the potential threat or needlessly diverting security resources away from where its needed. Co-ordination with fellow business and strategising in addition to having your own well thought out and practiced plan are essential in order for your business to cope and survive.
Physical security and our attitude towards it are paramount, poorly thought out access systems, inadequate CCTV and poorly executed Security provisions are rife. Ask yourself some salient questions about your business and its security, I would imagine that most will answer no, don't know and it must be someone else that deals with it:
Do you have a security plan? Have you ever had a Security Survey completed on your premises? Do you even know where you are vulnerable? Who is responsible for ensuring that your current security measure are suitable and relevant? If you are in a shared office are you aware of the security procedures for the building or floor? Do you know security situation locally, nationally and internationally? How might that effect your business here and whom you do business with? Alternative office locations should they be required - Can your staff all work from home or would you need to re-locate them for an undetermined period of time What effect would an act of terror have on your business, and you attracting clients and potential customers?
I see almost daily about how we should prepare for cyber attacks and protect our networks from attack, yet there is very little ever written or adequately done about physical security and the implications it can have on your business.
As infrequent as these acts may be they can have a cataclysmic effect on your business. Being prepared takes time and investment, the results are only ever tangible when something does go wrong. By then its too late! Forewarned is forearmed.
We regularly provide Security Surveys and Security Planning guidance to our clients and our subject matter experts are expertly placed to help in answering the questions you have.