“Counter terrorism work by the UK has got more challenging and harder in the last year,” said Charles Farr, Director for Security and Counter Terrorism quoted in the FT on 10 April 2014. “The security services dealt with more threats from more groups in more countries than ever before. Alongside potential bombings and hijacking, several plots have been disrupted by security services in recent months, but our coverage of terrorist-related activity is not as good as it might otherwise have been.”
The national and international media are full of stories of acts of terrorism, threats and the impact that these have on lives across the world. The leaks of national security agency activity by US security contractor Edward Snowden had ‘unambiguously’ put British lives at greater risk. The government’s annual review of its counterterror policies stated that 257 people had been arrested last year in connection with alleged terrorist activities, but so far only 25 have been convicted in connection with terrorism. The report also noted that the threat of terrorist attack remained ‘substantial’ – meaning that an attack is a strong possibility.
Those responsible for ensuring that critical national infrastructure, ‘crowded places’ and business organisations have proportionate countermeasures in place, are facing a tough challenge.
International terrorist threats
Terrorist threats are becoming increasingly international and more fragmented. The FT recently reported that dealing with threats from Syria-related terrorism now accounts for more than half of all casework undertaken by MI5. With the threat being international in nature, the response from the security industry must also be international.
Various British parliamentary reports have been published this year which deal with matters relating to Britain’s role in the world, its national security and how much money should be spent on defence and why. The joint Commons and Lords committee on the National Security Strategy published a report on 30 April which highlighted a key problem; that those responsible for the nation’s security are preoccupied with short-term problems, seemingly oblivious of the need to draw up contingency plans for future potential crises. The committee also stated that: “The UK’s future relationship with the EU is vital to the UK’s national security,” and they castigated Whitehall for a ‘head-in-the-sand’ attitude for claiming that there would be shrinkage in the UK’s influence.
The EU itself has been addressing the risks of attacks on infrastructure, transport systems and crowded places (rated as high in the UK). The European Commission working document published in April 2014 stated that since 9/11 events, the cooperation within the EU in the fight against terrorism has intensified, although the threat of terrorism remains strong and the number of attacks has increased. According to EU reports, a serious terrorist attack has the potential to have severe impacts resulting in high levels of mortality, economic losses and public disorder.
The Europol ‘EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2013’ noted that the ‘unstable situation in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region has a direct relationship to the threat to European countries’ security’. Critical infrastructures are complex interconnected systems that are subject to a wide range of risks and hazards, but they are interdependent and can extend well beyond the geographical and jurisdictional limits of one Member State. Achieving a harmonised risk assessment and risk management approach is important, and efforts are underway to work towards common risk assessments and further EU-wide collaboration, but the report says much remains to be done.
Workshop Agreement 14
Against this background it makes sense for suppliers of equipment and services designed to provide the highest levels of physical protection for sites and their perimeters from terrorist or criminal attack to adopt the highest international practices. One example of the security industry adapting its practices to address the changing threats in the international context is Vehicle Security Barriers (VSB), used as part of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation in high security perimeters.
The development of the two part ISO International Workshop Agreement, IWA 14, was led by the UK Government’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) in collaboration with the British Standards Institution (BSi). It is the result of international collaboration between national governments and the global perimeter security industry. IWA 14-1 provides a harmonised method for full-scale vehicle impact testing a VSB, using a fleet of vehicle types that cover all continents. This means a VSB can be tested against the appropriate vehicle, depending on the geographical location and perceived threat. IWA 14-2 provides unified guidance, specifically on selecting, installing and operating VSBs.
BSI PAS 68
Prior to IWA 14 being published, CPNI also led the development of the UK document, BSI PAS 68, which was originally published to offer a level of assurance to the UK customer for how a VSB may perform under vehicle impact. There was good uptake of the document and it is still used internationally. However, its UK oriented vehicle fleet limited its acceptance when used overseas, leading to the development of ISO IWA 14.
Whilst the impact test performance assurance is represented by IWA 14-1 and PAS 68, installation, the subject of PAS 69 and IWA 14-2, is playing catch up, although the Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA) is doing much to raise the bar in this sphere.
The PSSA Verification Scheme gives suppliers of high security perimeter products and installation, a rigorous system for ensuring that they consistently meet legal requirements and internationally recognised standards and demonstrating this to clients.
Lucy Foster of ATG Access, an international manufacturer of security bollards and vehicle barrier systems commented: “The IWA 14 standard will unite global impact test standards and provide the industry with an internationally recognised certification to evaluate high security vehicle barriers. All security manufacturers can now work to one standard and international tenders requesting alternative and niche certification for products can be succeeded with the IWA 14 accreditation.”
Supplier best practice
One of the early adopters of IWA 14 was ATG Access with their Stealth Bollard which was one of the first products to be successfully tested using a 7,200 kg truck travelling at 80kph (50mph), achieving less than 1m penetration.
The Stealth Bollard has been designed to be installed as a completely new product or to be retrofitted into many existing foundation systems. The replacement of automatic bollard systems would traditionally have required the removal of an excessive, reinforced concrete foundation and rebar which would not only cost an extortionate amount of money but the site disruption would leave an access point unsecured for months at a time. ATG Access’s retrofit option has been engineered to be fully serviceable and the physical conversion takes less than one day per bollard.
This product has been designed at the request of a customer who had a set of unserviceable automatic bollards at a critical security entrance. Since the request, they have replaced all of their automatic bollards, successfully upgraded and replaced with the new Stealth Bollard.
Two examples where international standard equipment was specified resulted in Frontier Pitts installing their Compact Terra Barriers, protecting both the EU Presidency and the US President. The Presidency of the Council of the European Union is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the European Union, the upper house of the EU legislature and is a position held by a national government.
This presidency’s building in Cyprus houses the meetings of the Council. The Compact Terra Barrier was the specified Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) solution as it met the threat level requirement – a hostile vehicle could not reach a higher speed of 30mph/48kph on approach as the landscape had been designed to combat this.
The Compact Terra Barrier, which has been successfully impact tested to BSi PAS 68:2010 specification, is also a subtle, aesthetically pleasing HVM solution that would not highlight the security issue to the local community.
The PAS 68 Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Drop Arm Barrier also secures the entrance of the Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro, Tanzania which was visited by President Obama on his first state visit to Tanzania.
Impact of standards
PAS 68 has become widely known and used, but buyers and specifiers have also widely misused it as the specification for VSBs, ignoring selection criteria for safety, operation and environmental protection. It has also been used by suppliers as a ‘badge’ to convey to potential clients that their product has been impact tested – a requirement for most critical national infrastructure incorporating VSBs.
So what will be the impact on the marketing of VSBs in the UK, the EU and internationally? PAS 68 is recognised overseas, but it is possible that the new IWA will better facilitate access to export markets as it becomes more highly regarded in the international security industry. It will certainly help to reduce some of the market confusion and help to coordinate international security efforts. But the IWA can play a key part in helping to inform buying decisions which in turn will play a crucial role in the protecting our critical national infrastructure, crowded places, and business organisations from the threat of international terrorism. The new IWA has enabled PAS 68 to go international.