Daryl Jarvis is a security advisor who specialises in counter-terrorism protective security. He advises major international sports events and concerts on planning and delivering protective security operations and counter terrorism risk management.
You can follow him on LinkedIn for more interesting security articles here.
Event professionals are increasingly aware of the threat to events of all sizes from terrorism. Following recent attacks, these threats look set to remain at the forefront of the minds of event organisers and attendees alike for the foreseeable future.
Vehicle ramming attacks have been particularly common in recent times due to the ease of access to the ‘weapon’ and the relative lack of sophisticated planning required to carry out the attack. As a result, event professionals are increasingly aware of the need to counter the threat from vehicle-based attacks.
However, the use of ‘Hostile Vehicle Mitigation’ (HVM) to protect against such threats is beyond the scope of experience of many event professionals and putting HVM measures in place can seem like a daunting prospect.
This article aims to improve the understanding and confidence of event professionals who may need to use HVM by sharing 5 useful tips for success.
The first tip is to start your planning as early as possible.
You should take initial advice from the police, if possible, or a suitably qualified security professional about the threat to your event and what HVM measures might be required. Starting early will allow time to plan and design a better, more efficient HVM deployment and to source the required amount of HVM barriers at a reasonable cost. It will also enable you to factor the use of HVM into the rest of your event planning, a key factor in the overall success of your HVM deployment.
A key component of HVM planning is scalability.
This is the ability to increase security your measures in response to changes in the threat your event is facing. Such changes to threat levels often occur at short notice and require organisers to act under time pressure.
Your initial HVM planning will be based upon of the threat to the event as assessed at the time your planning is carried out. However, the threat landscape rarely stays static. If the threat to your event significantly changes, for example because the national threat level increases or specific intelligence is received, you may need a proportionate uplift in security.
Consider how you will respond if the national threat level is raised to ‘critical’ - its highest level - in the days before your event. In order to mitigate the new higher threat you will likely need to increase security including potentially installing additional HVM measures. It is vital that your plan is scalable so that you are not left scrambling to create a plan, source HVM measures and find a way to install them at the last minute.
An easily overlooked aspect of HVM deployment is its impact on the arrival and departure of customers.
The use of HVM can potentially slow the arrival and departure of spectators to your event. This can negatively affect your customers’ experience and cause significant frustration for customers if not properly managed.
Consider whether the HVM will slow the arrival and departure of vehicles at drop-off points and whether these drop-off points will be further away than normal from the venue creating a longer walk for spectators.
Those arriving by public transport or on foot may also be affected as the use of HVM outside the event alters the flow of pedestrians to the event, slowing their arrival.
Events that do not normally use road closures, will need to pay particular attention to transport planning. However, even for events which normally use ‘soft’ road closures, the use of HVM may mean that roads will be closed for longer than usual.
The HVM will almost certainly limit your flexibility to delay road closures or reopen roads early.
These issues are worth factoring in to your planning.
Since HVM will take up space around the event perimeter and impact on pedestrian flows, another factor that must be considered is the impact of the HVM deployment on your event safety plan.
For example, the use of HVM may restrict the flow of spectators out of the site or venue during normal ingress and egress and in the event of an evacuation. As a result, its presence will need to be factored in to the event safety plan, evacuation routes and the calculation of evacuation flow rates.
The use of HVM can create additional accessibility challenges for events. For example, using HVM may push the accessible drop-off point further out from the event than normal. If the drop-off is some distance from the event, you should consider providing benches along the route to the venue for the benefit of customers with accessibility needs.
Accessible customers are also likely to be reliant on vehicle transportation and it is worth bearing in mind that their wait may be extended if HVM and road restrictions are slowing traffic. As a result, you should also consider providing benches and accessible toilets at the drop-off point in case of a prolonged wait.
There is no doubt that HVM is a complex area of event planning but one that event organisers are increasingly being required to consider, a trend that looks set to continue in the future.
As a result, a basic understanding of the issues around HVM deployment and its integration with wider event planning is an ever more important asset for event organisers.