London continues to bear the highest risk of terrorism in the UK for having “the largest number of high-profile targets and the greatest concentration of subjects of interest.” This is what Lord Toby Harris, chair of the National Preparedness Commission (NPC), revealed in his latest report examining the capital’s ability to defend and respond against terrorist attacks.
The report, entitled London Prepared: A City-wide Endeavour, looks back at Harris’s 2016 study on terrorist activity in London and what the city has learned since. It also assesses the capital’s current state of readiness and gives 294 recommendations, six of which are specifically tailored for the business sector.
The new report reaches the same conclusion as the previous one – that “security and preparedness needs to be built into London’s fabric and effective protection against terrorist attack must be a city-wide endeavour.”
In a recent webinar, non-profit group Resilience First, along with NPC and Pool Re, talked about whether the business sector is prepared for future terrorist activity in the capital and how businesses and emergency services should best interact.
The common thinking is if London is to be resilient towards terror activity in the future, then the business community has a critical role to play and needs to work more closely with emergency services to achieve this.
“With around six million people employed in London, businesses are at the frontline of any future attacks,” said Simon Collins, board chair at Resilience First. “It is imperative that business is prepared. There is a cost to this, but the cost if an attack occurs will be significantly greater if we are unprepared.”
“Substantial progress has been made since my last report in 2016 and nearly all recommendations from then have been implemented. But we cannot afford to be complacent,” added Harris. “The nature of attacks has changed and more likely to be carried out by an individual. New technology, such as drones, is available, and we need to be wary of our public services becoming too stretched.”
Ed Butler, chief resilience officer at Pool Re, a government-backed terrorism reinsurance scheme, said recent modelling by the group highlighted the biggest factors driving terrorist attacks.
“The growing macro drivers of terrorism, in particular those fuelled by climate change – migration, global food poverty, population, and growing disparity between the northern and southern hemisphere – will all impact on the future terrorism and extremist landscape,” he explained.
The situation has called for businesses to take an integrated approach to security and countering terrorism, according to Emily Payne, security and defence expert at PA Consulting.
“[Businesses] need to think through the issues around people they employ and work with, their assets, their operations, and the leadership that organisations provide,” she said. “The interdependencies between these are important, too.”