Charm, not harm offensive as retailers are invited to engage in defeating terrorist threat
The National Counter Terrorist Security Office (NaCTSO) has launched a ‘charm, not harm offensive’ to engage with the retail community in a bid to boost vigilance and prevent terrorist opportunities in crowded places.
In the wake of high-profile atrocities, including the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks in London, NaCTSO, the government department in charge of anti-terrorist policing, promoted its new look ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) campaign to a number of the High Street’s leading brands at an ‘engagement’ day on June 11 at New Scotland Yard in London, organised in conjunction with shopping centre group intu.
The mission of NaCTSO is to keep people safe through four pillars of safeguarding activity – pursue, prevent, protect and prepare, better known as helping organisations to target-harden their people and premises against the threat of terror.
ACT, the new strategic face of Projects Griffin and Argus, is a free-to-use suite of tools made available to retailers and night-time economy providers through a variety of interactive platforms, including face-to-face training and an e-learning awareness package that can be delivered to store staff.
The comprehensive Retail Engagement Day covered the spectrum of subjects from threat level – currently ‘severe’ – through perpetrator profiles based on political and/or ideological objectives, likely targets which include crowded places or national infrastructure, to potential modus operandi such as lone wolf firearm or knife assaults to hazardous substance attacks, and even the weaponisation of drones, as demonstrated by the disruption around Gatwick and Heathrow airports earlier in the year.
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said: “There is now more terrorist activity coming at us more quickly than previously and is more difficult to detect. It is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly and operating on a scale that we have never seen before.”
The threats are not only from extreme Islamist groups, but also from the rise of the right-wing terror organisations including the banned National Action which has called for political killings of MPs and so-called ‘race traitors.’
But, the meeting was told, there is also a rise from state-sanctioned terror including the chemical attacks in Salisbury in 2018 which closed the town centre for many months.
Retailers are now being encouraged to liaise with the intelligence communities to build awareness and confidence in the ability to report behaviours including suspected hostile reconnaissance, where suspicious individuals are identified photographing potential targets and surrounding security measures including CCTV.
Enthusiastic customer service, including approaching suspects and asking if they need help, can have a powerful deterrent effect as terrorist, like shoplifters, do not like to be approached while going about their nefarious scouting activities.
NaCTSO wants to work more closely with the private sector and support businesses in rolling out these training products to a wider audience. The Counter Terrorism Security Advisors working within the Regional Police Forces are a great source of support and advice to achieve this and local CTSAs can be found via the NaCTSO website.
To reach more businesses, NaCTSO has also seconded the SIA to help deliver the message to private security companies, many of which are used by retailers as greeters in bigger cities.
Ian Pugh, Group Head of Security at intu, said: “We have been working with a lot of retailers and ORIS Forums in raising awareness around threats against business, whether it’s shopping centres or the High Street in general.
“The engagement day was a deep dive into some of the threats and preventative measures that businesses can take to protect themselves and their customers. We encourage other businesses to get involved to target-harden their own premises through effective staff training which is free of charge.”
For more information about how to learn more about retail engagement and ACT, visit the NaCTSO website.