In the fourth and final week of the Action Counters Terrorism campaign, the Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications (CSSC) initiative has been launched in the East Midlands. The CSSC is a partnership between the police service and the business community which uses an alert system to cascade information to and from the public and private sectors, not just in the event of a major incident such as a terrorist attack, but also during quieter periods to share security information and improve business resilience.
The process works in partnership with the Emergency Services and other authorities to ensure that pertinent security information and advice is delivered and received in an official capacity both quickly and efficiently, subsequently enabling business operators to make the necessary decisions in order to keep premises secure and their staff and customers safe.
Speaking about this development, East Midlands Constabulary’s deputy chief constable Chris Haward said: “From global corporations through to your local corner shop, communities are built on business, so when we talk about communities defeating terrorism, we’re very much talking to the business community as well. The CSSC is one of a number of methods we use in bringing businesses into the fold to tackle terrorism, including regular liaison with key venues and the staging of training events and exercises to prepare and protect against this complex threat.”
Haward added: “CSSC is a very simple mechanism ensuring that accurate and consistent information is shared with people at the time when they need it. It’s not just a one-way process, though. We hope this will open up the lines of communication not just between the police and business, but also across the sectors. It’s a way of formalising existing channels of communication and, ultimately, strengthening our influence on keeping people safe.”
Network of regional champions
In practice, updates from National Counter-Terrorism Policing are shared with a network of regional business champions, known as Industry Sector Leads (ISLs), who have been identified as key individuals in their particular area. They will then cascade the messages within their sector of influence.
Tailored messages to specific sectors can also be shared in this way. It’s not just pertinent to counter-terrorism, but also information and advice around business crime, fraud and cyber crime in general.
For the most part, messages are shared via e-mail. In more urgent scenarios, text messages will also be used and, in rare cases, ISLs will be invited to log into special conference calls.
There are currently 30 businesses signed up as ISLs in the East Midlands region, among them Boots, Next, Starbucks, BT, the East Midlands Ambulance Service, the Nottingham BID, the Post Office and Rolls-Royce.
Inception of the CSSC concept
Andrew Nicholls is chair of the CSSC East Midlands Management Board. Also deputy chair of The Security Institute, Nicholls was involved in the inception of the CSSC concept back in 2012, when it was used in London during the Olympic Games. With the system rolling out across the country, Nicholls has been understandably keen to support its introduction across the East Midlands region.
“Having worked in the security industry for much of my career,” explained Nicholls, “I have seen first-hand the power of well-developed channels of communication. The CSSC doesn’t deal in rumour or speculation, but rather facts straight from the authorities. It’s what you need to know and when you need to know it. This is the police and other authorities using the business network to increase awareness and, ultimately, help to keep people safer. There really is no catch. It’s a completely free service ensuring that we’re all on the same page when it comes to fighting crime and knowing about the trends and threats.”
Nicholls concluded: “As far as the CSSC is concerned, there’s no such thing as too many cooks. The more members we have, the better. Better for the security of your business, better for the safety of your customers and better protection for the community at large.”