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Call on tech to meet your duty to protect

May 20, 2024 by Alistair Enser

Electronic security is but one element of managing risk. While regular readers of my blog will know I write a lot about electronic security, I am conscious that it is not a panacea. Processes, preparation and people are also important in managing risk. But I make no apology for continuing to insist that technology plays a crucial role in improving outcomes for organisations.

For example, with the power of the internet, it is now possible to review crime stats for any part of the UK. Helping to evaluate and profile risk when determining how to protect people and assets.

And when we look at the forthcoming Protect Duty, what it is trying to achieve and what and where it is aimed, it is hard not to see technology playing a major role. Following the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack and the ‘Martyn’s Law’ campaign by Figen Murray OBE after the tragic loss of her son in the incident, Protect Duty legislation was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech of May 2022.

Its stated purpose is to “keep people safe by introducing new security requirements for certain public locations and venues to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks.” It plans to do this by enhancing the security planning and provision of what are called ‘publicly accessible locations’ (PALs). These are “any place to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission”, so the list of possible PALs is long. The Government’s website lists:

“…sports stadiums; festivals and music venues; hotels; pubs; clubs; bars and casinos; high streets; retail stores; shopping centres and markets; schools and universities; medical centres and hospitals; places of worship; Government offices; job centres; transport hubs; parks; beaches; public squares and other open spaces.

On a fundamental level, the Protect Duty requires those who manage PALs to undertake a security risk assessment and undertake measures to protect their staff and customers, putting processes and effective communications in place to ensure any situation is managed efficiently.

Given that the current national threat level is “Substantial”, meaning an attack is likely, Protect Duty legislation cannot come soon enough. But as organisations assess their risk and put mitigations in place to enhance the security of the spaces they manage, they should consider carefully how this can be achieved most effectively.

I have written in the past about the great potential of analytics within security systems, and how they offer particular benefits at a time when firms struggle to recruit enough security staff. This challenge was recognised in the Harris Report, established to assess London’s preparedness for a terrorist incident. Toby Harris noted the shortage of properly trained security staff as a result of the pandemic, and how “many event organisers and venue operators have been struggling to secure qualified security staff.”

Even with sufficient staff, I worry that many security personnel at PALs will be recently drafted temporary staff, not sufficiently and professionally trained to the standard that is required if people are to be kept safe. An SIA licence can be obtained in just over three weeks, which includes training, application and processing.

At Reliance High-Tech, we believe in a balanced approach. Guarding and Electronic security are not mutually exclusive, they are complimentary, and certainly, technology can add huge value.

Contact Reliance High-Tech at info@reliancehightech.co.uk to find out how you can use technology to meet your Protect Duty requirements.