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London Attack Reminds May of Post-Brexit Security Ties Need


Jeremy Hodges

The tragedy unleashed at the heart of Britain’s seat of power gave Prime Minister Theresa May a sharp reminder of the security threat she shares with the European allies she’s about to divorce.

The worst terror attack on British soil since 2005 took place a year to the day after the deadly bombings on Brussels, and exactly one week before May’s government triggers Brexit. The unnamed British-born attacker was investigated by the British intelligence service MI5 some years ago but he wasn’t part of the current “intelligence picture,” May told lawmakers on Thursday.

Expressions of solidarity and offers of help flooded in from the European Union governments May will be engaging in complex and probably acrimonious negotiations on how to decouple after more than 40 years together.

But for the woman who until eight months ago was in charge of keeping the country safe, the incident serves as a powerful argument to conserve a key aspect of EU cooperation in light of the interdependence of security services and terror plots across European capitals, from Paris to Berlin.

“In the year since the Brussels attacks, the threat level in the EU has only risen,” the Soufan Group said in a statement earlier Wednesday. 

Many foreign fighters from the EU have traveled to Iraq and Syria and an unknown number have returned. That means “the challenge facing European security and intelligence services is enormous,” according to the private consultancy.

On Tuesday, it joined the U.S. in banning electronic devices on flights from six Middle Eastern countries. The reason given was that terror groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda could hide a bomb in things like a laptop.

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron made the case for increased defense and intelligence cooperation with both the U.K. and Germany in the wake of the attacks. Speaking on Thursday, he advocated “much increased cooperation on intelligence sharing.”

Senior security officials and police have stressed to lawmakers that the U.K.’s ability to share intelligence must not be hampered by the Brexit process.

‘Five Eyes’

The U.K. does have intelligence sharing agreements with country’s outside of the EU including “Five Eyes” an alliance that comprises the U.S, Australia, Canada and New Zealand that could act as a template for any future agreements with European countries.

“Britain boasts an impressive security and intelligence apparatus and one that others actively want to share information with,” said Brian Painter, managing director of security and risk specialist Discreet Help. “I don’t think Brexit will have any effect on this.”

The U.K. is a member of Europol, which helps police crime across borders, and is a signatory to the European Arrest Warrant system in which EU members transfer people sought by another. EU countries also share data on air passengers and information on suspects.

Before the London attack, both the Center for European Reform and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg issued warnings.

‘Cut Off’

The CER said Britain can’t be a member of the European Arrest Warrant if not a member of the EU, while Clegg said the EU will only share data under certain safeguards. He said that failure to secure a transitional deal would see the U.K. tumble out of the existing justice and home-affairs measures in early 2019.

“The police would find their access to European databases cut off, and would no longer be able to use the Schengen Information System to quickly check the identity of suspects or their vehicles, or to pass on the details of missing persons,” Clegg said in December.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said earlier this month that it was a “priority” for the U.K. to keep the warrant. The government’s white paper on Brexit said it plans to “continue our deep cooperation with the EU and its member states” on security and terrorism.

Walk Away?

Still, EU officials are urging the bloc to prepare for the U.K. to walk away from Brexit talks without a deal on any form of cooperation.

May addressed the nation Thursday to say the terrorist threat would stay unchanged at its second highest level since August 2014. Until now, the country had managed to stave off the mass-casualty attacks seen in the past two years in Berlin, Brussels, Paris and Nice.

But privately, security officials have said for some time that it was matter of when, not if, a terrorist attack would happen on British soil. British authorities have thwarted 13 attacks over the past four years, police said. Over an 18-month period in 2015-16 they were also arresting people on suspected terror charges at an average rate of one a day.

Merkel’s Solidarity

Tensions over Brexit negotiations were put to one side in the aftermath of the attack as European leaders made statements of solidarity and condolences.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while the causes of the London incident remained unclear, “for Germany and its citizens, in the fight against terrorism in all its forms, we stand solidly and resolutely by Great Britain’s side.”

And as news emerged that three French students were among those injured, Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said that France too stood ready to help “a beacon of democracy.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, noting the sympathy and solidarity sent by the U.K. after the attacks in Brussels a year ago, said the commission “can only send that sympathy back twofold.”

The U.K. “will always remain a partner and a friend and one we will continue to work hand in hand with in the fight against against terror,” he said.

Parliament Will Review Its Security Arrangements In The Wake Of Wednesday's Terror Attack

The security committee will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday, as an expert told BuzzFeed News of the difficulty in defending against low-tech attacks.

Parliament is to review its security procedures in an emergency meeting on Thursday in the wake of a terror attack that killed at least three people, as well as the assailant, and left 29 injured.

Lindsay Hoyle, deputy speaker of the House of Commons and chairman of parliament's security committee, told the BBC that he would be hosting a meeting to check if additional measures were required.

"We will be having an emergency meeting," he said. "We'll be getting information, what else needs to be put in place, and we will reflect, not instantly, we've got to take on board what's happened and we will make decisions accordingly. Of course, we've got to look after both houses."

TV footage on Thursday morning showed new concrete blocks being moved into place around the Palace of Westminster in the wake of the attack. The blocks have already been in place around parts of the parliamentary estate as part of longstanding security measures against vehicle attack.

Even before Wednesday's attack, the parliamentary estate was already subject to extensive security precautions including routine patrols by armed police, thorough security screening of visitors, extensive electronic surveillance, and other measures. Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirrordescribed parliament as "a fortress".

Theresa May stressed to MPs that the attacker only managed to get 20 yards into the grounds of parliament before being stopped, through the carriage gate, which is usually used as an entrance by MPs and peers. The gate has the lightest visible security of parliament's many entrances, with most others having mechanical or pass-activated gates blocking entry.

The gates were already due to be upgraded by the end of 2017, according to a parliamentary written question. The gates currently feature a temporary low-level barrier, which is manned by police officers who open it when cars needs access.

Prior to the attack, MPs had complained that the barrier is unsightly, prompting House of Commons commission chair Tom Brake MP to promise a solution by the end of the year as part of a general upgrade of security measures in the area where the attack took place.

"The temporary galvanised barriers outside Carriage Gates will be replaced via the New Palace Yard security enhancement project,” he said in December. "It is envisaged that a solution sympathetic to the existing local architecture will be adopted."

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, told MPs some new security measures have already been introduced, and said he would eventually consider whether a review of the incident will be conducted.

"Naturally the parliamentary security authorities have already taken measures to ensure that parliament is safe in the light of the attack,” he said.

"In due time, the commission which I chair will consider together with our Lord counterparts what sort of review of lessons learned would be appropriate.

"However let the security personnel who protect us – police, security officers, and doorkeepers – be in no doubt whatsoever as to our appreciation of the way in which they discharged their duties yesterday."

Mark Rowley, the acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said in a statement on Thursday that it was police's belief that the attacker acted alone but was "inspired by international terrorism".

Private security consultant Brian Painter told BuzzFeed News the attack's simplicity was part of what made it difficult for police and intelligence agencies to forecast, but said the response had been highly effective.

"The attack in itself is very low-tech and that's the genius behind it," he said. "That's what we've seen in Berlin, Belgium, and France – they don't need to buy munitions or explosives, they just need a car and a kitchen knife.

"I can't speak as to how these people think, but it's simple: These attacks don't need planning, so don't come to the attention of the security services, and don't require much surveillance of the target. The plan's simple: Drive into people and try to get into parliament."

When it came to the actual response to the attack, though, Painter said police had responded exactly as they had been trained to, adding that the textbook response showed the effectiveness of police's regular anti-terror drills.

"This method of attack is something police are very aware of and had already drilled how to deal with marauding knife and gunmen," he said. "It's potentially the most likely model [of attack]. No plan survives contact with the enemy – that's the purpose of drills, so that everyone knows what to do individually. It was done exactly as in a drill."

Jamie Bartlett, an expert in extremism and radicalisation at the think tank Demos, told BuzzFeed News the new style of so-called lone wolf ISIS attacks in Western Europe are in part a product of the success of authorities in thwarting other plots.

“The idea of a self-starting, self-radicalising attacker has been growing as a phenomenon for a long time, and was even talked about in relation to Al Qaeda,” he said. “Someone sees magazines, watches videos online and decides almost apropos of nothing they’ll do something – it’s still relatively unusual, there’s often still some contact with a spiritual leader.

Speaking of the shift from building cells and attempting to source explosives to lone attackers with easily available tools and weapons, Bartlett said: “This opens things up a bit – it lowers the bar of entry into this world and some people then decide to attack. This is a lot easier than the attack model of a decade ago.

“Part of this is effectively a response to the success of intelligence agencies – they’ve made a rod for their own back. These attacks are hard to spot – you can’t track unusual purchases (like bomb manuals) online, you can’t spot networks of people. [But] the reason ISIS resorted to this is they can’t pull of the spectacular attacks they’d like to, because the intelligence agencies have been so successful in foiling them."

Security expert warns how Premier League grounds are at risk of devastating terror attacks

A TERROR attack being launched against Britain is highly likely and packed football stadiums are "relatively easy targets", a security expert has warned.

Britons have been urged to remain on high alert from a terror attack by a leading security adviser.

Brian Painter, who has worked as a security adviser at the Rugby World Cup and ATP Tour finals, said large-scale sporting events would always be at risk.

The Government's current threat level, which is set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and MI5, means that "an attack is highly likely".

After recent terror attacks which have taken place across Europe, the expert insisted it was only a matter of time before Britain is targeted in a similar way.

He said: "It's highly likely that it will happen and the Government believe so, hence why the security terror threat level is how it is. 

"They believe that an attack could be imminent and I am very very confident there are people probably planning it now."

The security expert, who works for a security and risk management company, praised MI5 for the work they have done in the past. 

Mr Painter reiterated that eventually there will be a terror attack in the UK despite the preventative measures already in place. 

He added: "We have seen previously in the past MI5 have released statements saying, The Arndale Centre in Manchester, Old Trafford, the Trafford Centre. 

"All of these key things that are outside of the capital, where they know they have been actively targeted for the purpose of terrorism. 

"It would only be a matter of time, I'm sure."

Mr Painter added that the problem with defending the public from  attacks is the fact that the evacuation of thousands of people cannot be practised.

However, following the mass evacuation of Old Trafford after a security scare before a Premier League match last year, the Mr Painter insisted lessons have been learned from terror attacks in the past, particularly the -masterminded attack near the Stade de France in Paris in 2015. 

"I think so [lessons were learnt], but the problem is they are relatively easy targets," he said.

Manchester United recently became the first Premier League club to , in an attempt to strengthen the club's security. 

The appointment came less then a year afer the evacuation of their stadium after a mock explosive device was accidentally left behind during a training exercise – forcing the match to be abandoned.

Mr Painter highlighted that this could be a move many of the clubs in the would take over the coming years. 

"Man United are one of the biggest clubs in the world with a big budget so they can afford to do that," he said. 

"But I think certainly for the big clubs who travel around Europe is something I'm sure that they will consider."

Terror Threat Taken Seriously at 2016 Tour de France

by Richard Moore July 03 2016

If a goal of terrorism is to plant doubt and fear in the minds of people as they go about their lives, then in some respects the enemy can claim a small success. At this year’s Tour de France, the first since terrorists murdered 130 people in November’s Paris attacks, the threat and attendant anxiety is compounded by an awareness that the Tour is more vulnerable than just about any other major sporting event.

Incidents during the 2015 race highlighted this. They were not terrorism-related, but instead moments when the fragile contract between spectators and riders was breached. After one stage Richie Porte said he was punched. On another, the TV cameras caught a spectator spitting at Chris Froome, who, after a different stage, claimed that one roadside “fan” threw a cup of urine over him.

A tense and uneasy atmosphere prevailed. Nerves were even more jittery in Paris on the final day when an unaccredited car appeared on the course and collided with the barriers. The police understandably reacted with panic, though it turned out to be a drunk driver. A few hours later a spectator draped in a white sheet appeared in the middle of the Place de la Concorde as the peloton sped toward him. This caused alarm, not least among riders who saw the strange apparition late and had to swerve to evade the hazard. Miraculously, no one was actually harmed. “I was worried the whole day something was going to happen,” André Greipel, the day’s winner, said afterward.

Both were incidents that could be dismissed as moments of eccentricity—dangerous and disruptive but not malicious. It could have been much worse, and everybody knew it.

Most also know the danger of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which is partly why the Tour organizers, ASO, are reluctant to go into too much detail about security arrangements. Organizers, police, and other agencies are rightfully concerned that openly discussing threats and their measures to thwart them might potentially embolden those wishing to do harm. But it is a tough balancing act to simultaneously not give potential terrorists any ideas while allaying the fears of the 12 million roadside spectators.

That massive gathering of spectators, coupled with worldwide TV coverage, makes the Tour de France a major global sporting event and its potential as a target must be taken seriously. As the Tour rolled out of Mont-Saint-Michel at lunchtime on Saturday there appeared to be more police officers and more layers of security to penetrate; there are checks on the way in to the media center for the first time in recent memory. Entry to the Tour’s “bubble” seems more restricted.

It meant that at the start of Stage 1 in Mont-Saint-Michel the crowds around the team buses were thinner than usual—though this might also have owed something to the location, a small and quite remote corner of northern France far from a big city or town.

There are 12 million coming to watch and each stage is over many kilometers on open roads. There are not enough police in Europe to line the entire route

Among the crowds was Brian Cookson, the president of cycling’s governing body, the UCI. “I wouldn’t want to overstate the threat,” said Cookson, “but everybody should bear in mind that they have a responsibility.”

Cookson pointed out that mild disorder, and a lack of respect for the riders, “spins into more general security issues.” 

“I see things not just at the Tour but at other races where people are behaving a little bit irresponsibly,” Cookson said.” I don’t like to see people running alongside the riders shouting in their ear, and that’s the last thing you want when you’re a bike rider trying to win a race. I don’t like to see people waving their flags and removing them at the last possible moment.”

Although Cookson was reluctant to comment on the threat of something more sinister, race organizers and French authorities have released some details about security arrangements for this year’s Tour. For the first time in its history, officially at least, the race will be protected by the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN), France’s elite police force that was set up in the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics when eleven members of the Israeli team were taken hostage. 

The GIGN recruits the best and toughest of the country’s police officers who endure a three-month selection process and then a year’s training, which includes “punitive” boxing, where potential recruits step into the ring with trained fighters. If they’re knocked down they have to get back up and carry on fighting. The force numbers 380, they can be engaged in France and abroad (they have military status), and in four decades the GIGN have been involved in more than 1,800 missions, rescuing more than 600 hostages.

“They’re very well trained and disciplined, and they’ll be there as a quick-reaction force in case of an incident, and definitely they’ll be involved in an advisory capacity,” says Brian Painter, managing director of British firm Discreet Help.

Painter, a former British soldier who also worked for the US State Department in Iraq, was employed in a security role at the Rugby World Cup, the ATP tennis finals in London, and in early June he attended Euro 2016, the soccer tournament currently being staged throughout France. He agrees that the Tour is a uniquely challenging event to safeguard. 

If you see anything abnormal, tell the police. You can often feel trouble before it happens.

“There are 12 million coming to watch and each stage is over many kilometers on open roads. There are not enough police in Europe to line the entire route. And you can’t close things down like you can at the Stade de France [where a suicide bomber tried to gain entry on the night of the Paris attacks last November]. In a stadium you’ve got various layers of security, making it easier to control.

“At the Tour de France people are spread out but the start and finish are major ‘choke’ points.” Places where large crowds congregate should be the main focus for the security authorities, says Painter. But given that the Tour—with the exception of the Village Départ and finish linetribunes—is unticketed, policing its crowds presents a major challenge. It is why, says Painter, intelligence is so crucial.

“It comes from the ground,” he says. “It starts with information which could be from the general public, which is then run through the intelligence cycle.” You cannot have good intelligence without a strong on-the-ground presence, he says.

Questions remain, however, about whether the security effort—no matter how large— could thwart somebody, or a group, determined enough to create mayhem. Painter acknowledges the existence of a “fringe of people determined to martyr themselves and cause as much devastation, death and destruction as possible, irrespective of what layers of security you have in place. You can’t eliminate the risk. But you can minimize it.”

So what can be done to make the Tour de France as safe as possible? Undercover police officers can be usefully deployed, says Painter. “At the ATP World Tour Finals we sent a covert surveillance team that mingled with people coming in and out; they were there for seven days, just watching what people were doing, testing the venue, trying to get into areas people are not supposed to get into. I’m sure at Tour de France starts and finishes something like that will already be in place.”

Tour fans also have a role. “If you see anything abnormal, tell the police,” says Painter. “You can often feel trouble before it happens. If you’ve been at a big sports event where there’s been trouble people will always say afterwards that they could feel that something wasn’t right. I’ve experienced terrorist attacks and it was the same: you could sense it before it happened.

“If something doesn’t feel right, my advice is to walk away and tell a policeman. Don’t worry about feeling silly if you get it wrong, or making a mistake. Let an expert decide.”

Cookson echoed this advice while urging fans to manage their own behavior. “Don’t forget,” he said, “that it’s a huge privilege to watch this sport for free at the side of the road, to get up close to the riders. Don’t abuse it.”

Monday 16th May 2016 - Sky Sports

Manchester mayor slams Old Trafford bomb 'fiasco' and calls for full inquiry

By Lyall Thomas 

Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd wants to find out who's to blame for the bomb scare at Old Trafford

Greater Manchester mayor Tony Lloyd has called for a full inquiry into Sunday's "fiasco" at Old Trafford and insists someone will be held accountable.

Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that a device described as a "life-like" bomb was accidentally left by a private company at the stadium following a training exercise involving explosive sniffer dogs held last Wednesday.

Manchester United's final Premier League game of the season at home to Bournemouth was abandoned before kick-off and the stadium evacuated, before being re-arranged for Tuesday night. The match will be shown live on Sky Sports 1 HD (programme starts 7.30pm, kick-off 8pm).

And Lloyd, who is also the county's police crime commissioner, said: "It is outrageous this situation arose.

"A full inquiry is required to urgently find out how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable.

"This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the army's bomb squad.

"It also unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk. 

"Whilst this in no way demeans the professionalism of the police and stewards responsible for getting the fans out, or the supporters' calmness and cooperation during the evacuation, it is unacceptable that it happened in the first place."

Manchester United's stadium was evacuated after a suspicious device was found 

Security expert Brian Painter said the episode had been the result of a "horrendous" mistake.

"It shouldn't be happening," he said. "There are certain procedures and protocols that every single football club will have in place to sweep and search through all of the stands and public areas well before every match.

"Finding a device in a public bathroom that's potentially been there since last Wednesday is a horrendous omission. 

"The fault can only lie with the company that was contracted in to come in and do that searching. It can only lie with them. 

"It should have been picked up. Mistakes do happen, however this is a very, very basic thing. If you put out four or five devices, you expect to get four or five devices back in. It's that simple."

Monday 16th May 2016 -

A leading security consultant tells Goal that it is common practice for explosive to be left on training devices such as the one found in a toilet at Manchester United's home

A sports security expert says that the fundamental errors made at Old Trafford ahead of the abandoned match between Manchester United and Bournemouth could well have resulted in a small amount of explosive being left in the stadium as fans arrived for Sunday's game.

A controlled explosion took place on a suspicious package found in the toilet of an executive suite in the north-west corner of the famous ground on Sunday, with the match swiftly postponed after an evacuation of the 75,000 fans, officials and staff in and around stadium.

It was later announced that the item involved was a dummy device left behind following a training exercise at the stadium on Wednesday.

Security consultant Brian Painter, who has overseen security operations at the Rugby World Cup and the ATP World Tour Finals, told Goal that a careless lapse in procedure might even have seen explosive left on the device as supporters congregated for the final fixture of the season.

"It's absolutely fundamental that, if you take anything from any organisation - for example, a pool car or a camera or any piece of equipment - out of where it's stored, you usually have to account for that," Painter explained.

"That is particularly the case for the type of device they are using because, if they use it for the benefit of scent dogs, generally they will use some form of scent of explosive on there, usually in the form of a very, very small amount of explosive. That's my experience."Painter, a director of Discreet Help Ltd, added that such a lapse is far from common within the field of large-scale security operations.

"It's absolutely not a regular occurrence," he remarked, "absolutely not. It's hard as I'm impartial and obviously don't know the full circumstances but, from what I can gather, it just seems to me like human error coming into play where they've had X amount of devices secreted around the stadium and they have obviously not counted them back in again.

"And if it happened last Wednesday and it wasn't found until Sunday afternoon, there's also a portion of blame on Manchester United as well for not doing their full security checks.

"It is in a public bathroom, not a back office or anything like that. This is a place where you have people going in and out all the time and I believe it was on the back of a toilet door so how many people have been in and out of that toilet facility in the last four days? It's a live stadium, it's not a closed stadium, people work there all day, every day, and security is there all the time as well so it's just very curious that it hadn't been picked up for so long."

Painter added that there will be a series of questions asked in light of the incident, including the actions of Manchester United as well as the private security firm which had administered Wednesday's exercise.

"For Manchester United, they obviously need to have a review of their own internal security procedures because, if over four or five days this device wasn't found by a human, let alone the search dogs, there's something amiss," he continued.

"They also, with regards to their security contractors, need to look at how they are being monitored and how the quality control is being done because it is all well and good opening the stadium and allowing these people to come and do it but evidently they have not found one particular device so is that training being done to a high enough standard?

"I'm sure there will be a negligence clause in [the contract between club and security firm]. On all the large sporting contracts I've worked on like the Rugby World Cup and the World Finals of the tennis at the O2, that kind of negligent behaviour would generally cause the agreement to be reviewed, that's for sure."

The mayor of Manchester, Tony Lloyd, has called for a full inquiry into what he called a "fiasco", while the Premier League announced on Sunday evening that the match will be rescheduled for Tuesday night at 20.00BST.

Wednesday 27th January 2016 - Croner-i

With major cities remaining on terror alert, what are the practical steps that can be taken to protect buildings and staff from potential threats? David Howell investigates.

With the UK still on a high alert for potential terrorist attacks, building managers need to ensure they have taken all the practical measures they can to protect their businesses from attack.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) states: “Organisations need to be prepared. Even if the likelihood of being directly targeted by terrorists is remote, the repercussions of an attack elsewhere can spread right across the economy. Could a business still function if, for example, key suppliers or clients were directly affected, if telephone networks went down or if power supplies were cut? What if deliveries could not be made or payments completed?” 

Says Mike O’Neil, Chairman of the Specialist Services Section, British Security Industry Association (BSIA): “Many FMs have a problem building a board-worthy business case to develop effective engagement with the client beyond what are often seen as routine, mundane services. True protection can only come from an organisation wide approach to building resilience. It is vital that businesses aim to mitigate the impact of attacks and improve the ability to recover. Currently there is often a fragmented approach that fails to incorporate dynamic response.”

Clearly, the risk assessments that are routinely performed should include identifying potential weaknesses that could be exploited by terrorists. Often, enterprises fail to place the emphasis that is needed onto these potential threats or to have a strategy for capital investment where this is needed to develop robust terrorist countermeasures. Facilities and safety managers can keep up to date with the latest counter-terrorism strategy on the Government’s website

Brian Painter, Managing Director of Discreet Help told us: “Facility managers should utilise resources available to them including making the most of local police forces. Most offer business support through Project Griffin , an initiative bringing together the police, fire brigade, ambulance services, professionals within the private security industry and other government agencies. The united aim is to target and deter or disrupt any terrorist and extremist activity.” 

Practical steps

The physical protection of a building from attack involves taking a multifaceted approach that will result in an integrated security barrier to potential attacks. Access points should be kept to a minimum and protected and monitored. The screening of hand baggage and the patrol of external grounds may be appropriate and can act as an effective deterrent.

“Ensuring that systems such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) and Access Control systems are physically secure as well as safe from the threats of hacking is a good step forward for facilities managers in the fight against terrorism,” comments James Wickes, co-founder, Cloudview. “At the very least by ensuring that usernames and passwords are of a sufficient strength to prevent immediate access.

Unfortunately, most people do not think to change them from the default state and information on the internet connection ports and default passwords for most CCTV systems can be found with a simple web search ( Worse still, open devices can be easily located using search engines such as” 

With Steven Gardner, OCS Head of Standards and Solutions — Security also advising: “Early warning systems can help to spot potential weaknesses. Terrorists do not act spontaneously but collect data through several visits to the site to gather consistent evidence on weak points. CCTV monitoring, vigilance and data collection on, for example, people trying to gain access to unauthorised areas will provide key evidence for reviewing and identifying potential exposure to dangerous situations.”

The complexity of the security measures developed for any particular premises will depend on the level of risk perceived. Other factors, such as whether the building is listed, will need to take these constraints into consideration when developing an anti-terrorism security regime that is effective yet not unduly punitive to the building’s users. The BSIA offers a guide to security for heritage properties onits website

Future security

Building security will inevitably become more important as threat levels persist. Building managers are not powerless to act, so act they must. Says Matthew Judge, Group Managing Director, Anvil (a specialist risk consultancy): “Risk can be intangible at the best of times and the pressure on facilities managers to improve efficiencies and cut supporting costs has resulted in many organisations adopting a ‘lean approach’ to risk management whereby the threat of a terrorist attack is almost considered a ‘Black Swan’ event.

“But, as recent history has proven, terrorist attacks can occur in almost any location, with the potential to cause tremendous damage and inflict massive casualties. As facilities managers can be involved in both the strategic and day-to-day operations of a business, particularly with regard to premises, they have a crucial role in any counter terrorism strategy and need to adapt to the increasing threat posed by international terrorism. This responsibility should not be viewed in isolation, but instead as a combined effort with both internal and external stakeholders.”

Clearly, taking action to review and improve counter terrorism measures should be seen as a priority. The uncertainty about where an attack on premises may take, or how an attack could impact their organisations on a wider level, needs to be factored into a detailed plan of action. What is certain is that as terrorist attacks will become more sophisticated and so should strategic planning and practical action to protect buildings and their occupants. 

Top 10 security guidelines

  1. Carry out a risk assessment to decide on the threats you might be facing and their likelihood. Identify your vulnerabilities. 
  2. If acquiring or extending premises, consider security at the planning stage. It will be cheaper and more effective than adding measures later.
  3. Make security awareness part of your organisation’s culture and ensure security is represented at a senior level.
  4. Ensure good basic housekeeping throughout your premises. Keep public areas tidy and well lit, remove unnecessary furniture and keep garden areas clear. 
  5. Keep access points to a minimum and issue staff and visitors with passes. Where possible, do not allow unauthorised vehicles close to your building. 
  6. Install appropriate physical measures such as locks, alarms, CCTV surveillance and lighting.
  7. Examine your mail-handling procedures, consider establishing a mailroom away from your main premises
  8. When recruiting staff or hiring contractors, check identities and follow up references. 
  9. Consider how best to protect your information and take proper information technology (IT) security precautions. Examine your methods for disposing of confidential waste. 
  10. Plan and test your business continuity plans, ensuring that you can continue to function without access to your main premises and IT systems.

Thursday 28th January 2016 - The Guardian

What will shape your year in export?

Convincing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to consider trading abroad is central to the government’s drive to hit a £1 trillion worth of exports by 2020.

The goal is so crucial that after hitting our television screens with its Exporting Is Great campaign in December, UKTI changed strategy this January. It has started 2016 by setting itself up as a “hub” from which experts in key industries 
will offer advice to businesses. There is also a promise of cross-departmental government support.

It appears the “cocktail of threats” to the UK economy that George Osborne is warning of are being taken seriously enough at Westminster to prompt a minor shakeup of its export promoting arm. What about the experts who are already out there and heavily involved in export, though? What do they think will shape the year ahead in export? How about the strong pound and political uncertainty over a potential Brexit? Will these be obstacles in an exporter’s path?

To find out, we asked a range of export experts – from banking to logistics and manufacturing to personal safety – to reveal how they think 2016 will pan out for exporters.

Confidence weak, pound strong, could the US be key?

Gareth Oakley, managing director, SME Banking, Lloyds Banking Group

“Our most recent Business in Britain report, which tracks the opinions of over 1,500 businesses, shows that overall confidence is down amid fears of weaker UK and overseas demand – particularly the slowdown in China.

“The strong pound in Europe is also making conditions difficult. Our research shows that the number of firms expecting to increase their exports to Europe in the next six months has declined by a third. More than a third [34%] also said that the strength of sterling against the euro was having a negative impact on their trade with the continent.

“This is affecting the competitiveness of British exports in Europe, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and businesses need to look further afield for the right opportunities; for example in the US, where a robust economy and more favourable exchange rate could work in their favour.”

China slow down and Brexit are very serious concerns

James Selka, chief executive of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA)

“Export has played a major part in the UK’s recovery and a lot of our members have reported strong growth in international markets, partly fuelled by a renewed desire to buy British, recognising the quality we can produce. 

“The relative slowdown of investment in China is a challenge and has had damaging effects on sectors as diverse as the construction machinery – hit by the slowdown in the building boom - and luxury cars – hit by a move in the social and political climate away from conspicuous consumption.

“There are real dangers in a 2016 Brexit, too. Not so much in immediate loss of market share, although blase assurances that ‘they need our markets more than we need theirs’ sound dangerously complacent.

“Uncertainty and its impact on investment decisions could be the immediate impact of an EU referendum, although we all know divorces are usually nastier than people expect and, in this case, anything that diminishes the attractiveness of the UK as a place to invest is a concern.”

Tough times prompt year of collaboration

We have already seen an upsurge of terror attacks across the globe, reminding us of the dangers of international travel.

“We’ve tracked the fortunes of the UK’s SMEs over the past three years in our annual survey of decision-makers and owners of smaller businesses. It’s been fascinating to see them cut their cloth in tougher times and innovate for growth in easier periods. But in better times or worse, SMEs have turned to each other for help – and this is exactly what they should be doing to expand internationally and achieve growth through exporting.

“So this year SMEs will need to build new networks and forge new partnerships with their counterparts overseas to help make exporting to new markets a success, more sustainable and to help shoulder less direct risk themselves. New partners and suppliers on the ground will bring local knowledge and key contacts to the table and can share some of the costs associated with breaking into new territories.

“Forming these kind of valuable relationships can be mutually beneficial and facilitate entry into new markets, especially growing markets that are culturally and linguistically very different to the UK.”

Face time and plane tickets better than email

Martin Nicholls, sales director at Cressall Resistors

“In 2016 it will become even harder to identify the type and quality of customer or supplier you are talking to. Websites can be impressive even if the company is actually a one-man band, which is why we still attribute value to face-to-face meetings. 

“This year will be about developing trust and familiarity with businesses – something that is harder to achieve online. I think travelling overseas has evolved from prospecting for new business into a way of developing business and business relationships. Face-to-face is about differentiating yourself from your many online competitors.

“Email makes communication faster but not always better. Email exchanges can easily escalate or fizzle out, whereas face-to-face meetings often cut through some of the adversarial email responses sometimes generated by differences in culture and approach.”

Terrorism risk rising at home and abroad 

Brian Painter, managing director of Discreet Help

“Despite having only just entered 2016, we have already seen an upsurge of terror attacks across the globe, reminding us of the dangers of international travel. 

“We’ve seen further violence and terror across the Middle East with conflict and atrocities increasing day by day. The African continent lies in conflicts, burgeoning violent crime and some of the highest kidnap and ransom rates ever known. 

“Across Europe the danger is very real. Paris has already fallen victim to targeted attacks and the UK’s ongoing involvement in Syria is going to continue to make us a target as well.

“This all has a dramatic effect on British companies doing business and operating across the world. Companies and individuals need to be aware of the very real threat and should seek appropriate advice before considering any international travel.”

Friday 14th January - Recruitment Agency Now

The devastating events in Paris last November, coupled with the foiled plot to detonate suicide bombs at two stations in Munich on New Year’s Eve, only served as a reminder of the dangers facing people looking to work in major cities overseas. The UK, of course, is also vulnerable, but in such a climate there is often a tendency to stay closer to home rather than move to new – and potentially dangerous – areas, and this can make it harder for both recruiters and clients to find the people they need.

So far, however, the impact has been limited. Graham Oates, chief executive of executive search and interim management provider Norrie Johnston Recruitment, which places candidates in countries including Pakistan, Algeria, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Bangladesh and Ghana, says there has been some additional reluctance to take on permanent posts in certain parts of the world, but this is not yet having a major impact.

“It is still possible to attract high quality candidates to work overseas despite the increasing geo-political instability,” he says. “It has always been the case that certain individuals are attracted to and comfortable in the ex-pat world whereas others are not.” Indeed, attacks in places such as Paris can also demonstrate that nowhere is entirely safe, he adds, and make people more likely to consider new places.

James Gherardi, director of supply chain and procurement at BIE Executive, says there are three types of international worker: those willing to work abroad but who commute back to the UK at weekends; those willing to relocate with their families; and those ready to base themselves in high-risk areas such as Afghanistan.

“For the first two groups, events such as the Paris attacks last year will certainly sharpen the mind,” he says. “However, the reality is that the risks present in Paris are just as germane in London, Madrid, Copenhagen, Brussels, Sydney or California. Even countries that have historically seen minimal attacks such as Switzerland are still threatened.” The third group are accepting of risk anyway, he adds, so the heightened activity will have little impact.

Alex Maher is currently senior account manager at Mango Marketing, but plans to head out to Paris to find work in the next two months, after deciding to relocate with her friend. “I’d only started properly looking for work in October, a matter of weeks before the attacks in Paris,” she says. “But as someone who has been living and working in London, I am used to living in the shadow of events such as the 7/7 bombings and, frankly, refuse to let my behaviour or decisions be influenced by that.” She does admit, however, that she was surprised by the number of people who expected her to change her mind in the wake of the attacks.

There are, however, particular sectors that are more likely to struggle to attract people overseas, particularly in the light of the current global climate. Those working in the oil sector have always faced risk, says Stephen Martin, recruitment director at Fircroft. “In the past ten years, these have intensified as the threat of kidnap or terrorist attacks increases in locations such as Africa or the Middle East,” he says. “When you ask if there is somewhere people would not go it tends to be the usual suspects: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Congo, Sudan and other Middle East or African locations where there is ongoing conflict.” Locations such as Tunisia and Algeria are also increasingly causing concern, he adds, again following high-profile terrorist activity.

There are measures recruiters – and their clients – can take to help minimise the risk and reassure potential candidates. Fircroft, for instance, has developed an onboarding programme which aims to make candidates aware of risks around issues such as disease, gangs, traffic and environment, and also insures workers against such threats. “We base our policy on Foreign Office advice and in some cases we have had to evacuate workers from dangerous locations,” says Martin. “For example, we had clients on the facility in Algeria when it was hijacked and worked closely with the authorities and our contractors to ensure everyone was safe.”

In the energy sector, Air Energi has also developed procedures to both protect workers and mitigate the impact of any unforeseen events. “These processes do not only cover acts of terrorism, but other scenarios including natural disasters and civil unrest, which can potentially affect candidates on assignment,” says Judith Goodwin, associate director, global mobility. “During the recent events in Paris, for example, our processes went into action to ensure all candidates in the vicinity were safe and kept up-to-date with the latest developments. No two global mobility projects are the same, so each case requires an individual approach to address any challenges that people may encounter when on assignment.”

In some cases, recruiters or clients can end up looking to implement additional security measures themselves. “Dependent on the environment and level of perceived threat, it may be appropriate for the employee to have a full-time security presence in form of close protection for them and their family,” says Brian Painter, managing director of Discreet Help. “Similarly, a specialist vehicle may be required. Working in a remote region with a standard saloon car may be fine until the rain comes and roads become dangerous or impassable without a suitable 4×4.” Individuals can also take part in hostile environment awareness training, which can see them put in mock situations and trained how to respond. “This format of training is very popular among the media and is gaining traction in the wider corporate world,” he adds.

Ultimately, though, any decision as to whether to travel or move overseas will have to remain that of the individual and their family, and there is a danger too that clients will decide certain assignments or even entire projects are just too risky. “Clients are acutely aware of the risks, particularly those operating in destabilising locations such as Russia,” says Gherardi. “I’m afraid that such assignments will be placed on hold or cancelled. All clients have stages of acceptable risk.”

- See more at:

Monday 16th October - Manchester Business Radio

Following the terrorist atrocities in Paris we spoke to Manchester-based security expert, Brian Painter, about the risk to business here in Manchester - and how to minimise it. Brian has delivered outstanding levels of service across the Globe in high and low-risk environments. From Manchester to Moscow, Belfast to Baghdad, Brian has looked after corporate business leaders, Oligarchs, foreign Royalty, celebrities and many more.

Brian's company, Discreet Help, is a bespoke Security and Risk Management specialist based in Manchester and serving the UK. With experts in the fields of Close Protection, Surveillance and Travel Risk Management, the company is active in low and high-threat locations all round the world.

10 November 2015 -

Brian Painter, who recently worked as the embedded security consultant for the Georgia World Cup Rugby team, speaks to us about Discreet Help and the bespoke security services they offer to their clients. We find out what it takes to succeed in such a delicate industry and what makes Brian's company stand out above the rest.

Oct 27th 2015

Discreet Help Provides Security for Georgian Rugby Team

~~In July 2015, Brian Painter, managing director of Manchester-based, Discreet Help, was appointed by GardaWorld to provide security services for the Georgian Rugby Team during the Rugby World Cup 2015. As strategic security partner to the team, Painter managed the security consultation for over 50 players, coaches and members of the team’s entourage during the tour.

The security specialists provided a secure and safe environment for players and coaches when travelling between hotels, training locations, public engagements and press conferences. The consultants worked in conjunction with match day stewards and incumbent security teams to ensure that a consistent level of security was maintained and risk mitigated that could potentially endanger the team, whether individually or as a group.

Understanding and responding to the high-profile nature of the client was central to Discreet Help’s success in assessing the level of threat presented at each stage of the operation.

Brian Painter, Managing Director of Discreet Help said: “Security is often held in low regard by organisations, treated as an unnecessary expense that’s not valued until something goes wrong. As well as providing the physical security measures that protect our clients, we offer a peace of mind that allows them to concentrate on their own matter of business, without worrying about potentially pervasive or high-risk circumstances that they might be in.

Painter continues: “The Rugby World Cup was a perfect example of this. Ensuring the safety and integrity of more than 50 people, while travelling all over the country, who are under intense media scrutiny requires the highest level of professionalism, as security extends further than just physical protection. We needed to consider how to correctly manage the team’s profile and perceptions in a discreet and effective manner, making sure nobody’s performance was compromised by these external pressures.“

Milton Haig, Head Coach for Team Georgia said: “The Discreet Help consultant integrated effortlessly with our team with an enthusiastic, dynamic and professional approach, so there was an overall sense of comfort throughout the tour. The players and coaches were confident in the security strategies put in places by the consultants, which meant they were free to concentrate on the games and sporting performances.“

Discreet Help is acquiring new clients in ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, 2016 UEFA Euros and 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour.

For further information please visit the website and follow on Twitter @discreethelp

March 2015

In early 2015 Discreet Help were invited to take part in a BBC Inside Out documentary exposing Fraud in the Security Industry. The full video is available here and a short clip below.