According to the British Ports Association (BPA), the UK has the fourth largest economy in the world and our nation’s waterways play a vital role in this, with UK ports handling over 95 per cent of UK import and export tonnage. In fact, in 2010 alone, the BPA estimated the value of trade through British ports to be around £340 billion. The ports industry hosts a wide range of operations, ranging across passenger ferries, containers, oil, leisure, fishing, bulk goods and general cargo. To put this into perspective, the BPA reports that in 2010 UK ports handled more than 500 million tonnes of freight and saw over 67 million passenger journeys.
The industry is also responsible for the transportation of products that are essential to our daily lives, such as petroleum, oil and coal. Naturally, if the control of this vital transport network fell into the wrong hands – such as those of terrorists – it could have detrimental effects on our society.
The essential nature of our waterways stems beyond that of traffic in and out of ports and along the coast, but to the UK’s inland waters and domestic traffic as well. The Department for Transport’s statistical report entitled Domestic Waterborne Freight, 2011, released in December 2012, explained just how influential UK inland waters are in transporting vital goods and resources throughout the UK. The report described domestic waterborne freight as consisting of: inland waters traffic carried by a barge or seagoing vessel on the inland waterways network (such as rivers and canals), coastwise traffic carried around the coast from one UK port to another, and one-port traffic to and from offshore locations – such as oil rigs – and sea dredging.
While coastwise traffic is the largest component of domestic waterborne freight, inland waters traffic transported 43.9 million tonnes of goods in 2011. As such, our rivers and canals are still extremely essential in the transportation of natural resources. As expected, the River Thames remains the busiest inland waterway in the country, with the River Forth coming in second.
Keeping the channels safe
These figures demonstrate just how busy our waterways really are, highlighting the essential need to keep these transportation channels safe from the hands of terrorists or organised crime. Police forces across the UK recognise this need and have subsequently launched Project Kraken, a national police, maritime crime and counter terrorism initiative to protect the waters of the UK. Police forces, such as those in Devon and Cornwall, have been appealing to their local communities to keep an eye out for any potential threats to ports or coastal waters and advise on particular elements of suspicious behaviour to look out for. Such behaviour can include someone who is asking questions about security procedures or who is filming, taking photographs of, or making notes on a maritime facility. This could mean they are assessing security measures in place in order to come up with ways to infiltrate them.
Other potentially dangerous behaviour to look out for includes the insertion of strange objects into waterways near bridges, pipes or critical infrastructure at unusual times or without the normal maintenance support, along with anyone watching carefully or videoing security procedures or ID checks at a ferry terminal.
Private security measures
While careful observation is extremely important in keeping potential terror attacks at bay, private security measures are also invaluable. It is often beneficial to take a holistic approach to security, balancing common sense with a variety of robust security measures in order to ensure maximum protection.
One aspect of security that may not immediately come to mind when it comes to maritime security is that of information destruction. Information destruction is the secure disposal of information in all of its different forms; so why is this so relevant to the maritime sector? While financial reports or employee records are considered to be extremely confidential pieces of information, there are other forms that could be equally as dangerous if in the wrong hands. In particular, ID badges and uniforms. According to the BPA, a government study discovered that the UK’s ports directly employed around 73,500 people. With such a high number of staff passing through ports each day, ID badges are often crucial in helping to distinguish employees from visitors or passengers. Often, outside visitors to maritime sites are also granted ID badges in order to access authorised areas of the premises. If these badges are disposed of insecurely at the end of the day, the security of the area could be compromised and if placed in the wrong hands, there could be detrimental effects.
The same goes for uniforms; the unsafe disposal of branded clothing gives opportunists a way to enter secured areas undetected, allowing them to blend in with other employees without drawing attention to themselves, potentially granting intruders access to secure areas. Such materials should be destroyed, either on-site or off-site, to the extent that they may never be reconstructed.
Product destruction is the fastest growing sector of the information destruction industry. Each year, BSIA information destruction companies destroy 200,000 tonnes of confidential waste – this includes non‑paper material such as IT equipment and audio and videotapes. Through a secure destruction process, the losses through fraud of all types can be significantly reduced. To guarantee a professional service, decision makers must ensure that the company they entrust with their information destruction is reliable and operates to industry standards.
The essential standard for an information destruction company to meet is that of EN15713. This standard includes a range of specific requirements that a company must comply with, such as having an administration office on-site where records and documentation are kept for conducting business. In terms of security measures, intruder alarms that are closely monitored by an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) should be installed on the property and CCTV should be placed at the points where the unloading, storage and processing of information is conducted. Companies that meet with this standard will be able to deliver a reputable service, ensuring that confidential waste is disposed of securely.
With such a heavy foot flow of passengers and employees, access control systems can be extremely beneficial in helping to control, monitor and restrict the movement of people, assets or vehicles, in, out and round a building or site. These systems can be employed both on land at the ports and out on the waterways, with authorised areas of vessels being secured by the technology. Ensuring that access is restricted solely to authorised people is pivotal to secure against threats such as theft, vandalism or, in more critical scenarios, tampering with products or transportation for terrorism purposes. If a terrorist were to breach security at a port and gain access to a boat, this additional fundamental layer of security on-board could prove essential in keeping the intruder from taking control of the vessel and potentially sailing it to a dangerous location.
While implementing security measures on the inside is always extremely beneficial, securing the perimeter of an area is also essential. An early detection of a threat on the perimeter – perhaps near the borders of a port – allows for more space and time for personnel to formulate a necessary response, potentially preventing an intrusion all together. While security fences and gates act as a useful deterrent, more covert measures can also be beneficial.
With concealed forms of perimeter protection, intruders will not be aware that they have been spotted or will not be able to see the security in place as easily.
Particularly effective forms of covert security are heat and motion sensors that are hidden and connected to alarm systems. Known as Unattended Ground Systems (UGS) they enable an early warning system, giving personnel time to respond effectively. Likewise, trip-sensors are another option. Once they are activated, personnel are able to pinpoint the location of the breach and react accordingly.
When choosing security measures to protect one of our most thriving industries, one thing is absolutely certain – security must be sourced from a reputable supplier that meets with the relevant British and European standards for their product or service. Members of the BSIA are all inspected to high quality standards and will offer a reliable service. To find a supplier near you, visit: www.bsia.co.uk/find-a-local-security-company