Early in June I had the good fortune to attend the Counter Terrorism Seminar arranged by transport specialist solicitors, Backhouse Jones. As always with seminars they produce, it was a superb and informative event, well organised and with top notch speakers from various members of the security services. It would be fair to say the content itself is highly topical but some salient points were bought home by the amazing line up of speakers.

Why is this so important now? What is the impact on transport of terrorism? I must admit I was uncertain but after just a few minutes of the first presentation I started to understand. If you think back to some of the recent atrocities (and there have been too many) several involved the use of a vehicle be it a car, van or HGV. This now seems to be an easy method of inflicting terror on the streets of both the UK and Europe.

The seminar outlined the risks involved for the innocent transport and rental companies concerned. Bear in mind the police will investigate thoroughly after each event. They will need to ascertain if there are any tangible links between the perpetrators of the act and the equipment used. To that end we were informed in this kind of investigation, no stone is left unturned. For instance, if an HGV is involved the police will want to understand how easy it was to access the vehicle, if the operator is bona-fide and if there could be any links or connections to the terrorists.

It is probable that the vehicle will be seized and that records may be sequested in both hard copy and digital modes, effectively leaving the operator with a challenge. We were informed the police may even take the operators mobile phone, laptops and office computers where these might provide evidence to support the investigation. Ultimately the TC would be advised as, in the event of a roadside check for example, there would be nothing to satisfy the officers that the company were trading correctly.

The risks to the innocent operator are enormous and far reaching. Clearly the first line of defence against the terrorist is to ensure keys are securely locked away when the vehicle is not in use and when on a delivery drivers must be instructed to remove them from the ignition. Secondly ensure you and all your staff are exposed to the many pamphlets available now regarding fighting terrorism. Clearly the better informed the less risk of becoming involved.

Of course another element to consider is the safety of your staff. The NaCTSO (National Counter Terrorism Security Office) presenters were keen to get the message out there that if involved in an attack everyone should RUN, HIDE and TELL! In other words RUN away from the incident, HIDE somewhere safe and TELL the police by ringing 999. All fairly obvious but I highly recommend the short video of the same name and getting the Citizen Aid booklet which spells it out again. Likewise, if you run your own business, you might also be wise to get hold of a ‘Passport to Good Security’ issued by CPNI (the UK Government’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure).

One of the presenters outlined how badly impacted the transport operator becomes in the event that his truck is used in an attack. Part of that presentation surrounded the impact after the event with insurance. Are you insured against this kind of risk? The answer was it was unlikely you are. With the current terrorist threat likely to persist for many years to come from ‘lone-lone actor’ and other styles of attack you should start now considering the ramifications of being innocently involved.

  • Start an EMERGENCY PLAN. We are all blessed with risk assessments but this kind of plan needs to go further and specifically include the risk of terrorism and its direct and indirect consequences
  • Make sure your staff are taking every precaution against vehicle loss
  • Educate yourself first then your staff about how to deal with an attack.

The message was received loud and clear – we will probably be at SEVERE level of threat (meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’) for many years to come. Whilst the security services have continual success in detecting and neutralising terrorist cells, the lone actors will always be an unpredictable entity. The security services and police need intel from all of us for this. We need to tell them about any person or persons who act suspiciously.

This seminar was probably one of the best for providing information that I have attended in many years. It spelt out the risks and scenarios very clearly (some might say too clearly). Backhouse Jones will be repeating this around the country for the remainder of the year. Attendance is free and I promise you won’t have a moment’s boredom. If you can attend….it may be the best thing you ever do.

If you want to attend please contact Chloe West at chloe.west@backhouses.co.uk

The Seminars are scheduled as follows:
Wednesday 27 September – Western Traffic Area (including South Wales)
Tuesday 10 October – West Midlands Traffic Area
Wednesday 11 October – North Eastern Traffic Area
Friday 20 October – North Western Traffic Area