Threat of terrorism on UK mainland raised to ‘Critical’ in wake of Manchester attack

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) has changed the threat level posed to the UK mainland by international terrorism from ‘Severe’ to ‘Critical’. The current threat level means that an attack is expected imminently and has been imposed in the wake of the suicide bombing perpetrated by 22 year-old Salman Abedi at Manchester Arena on Monday 22 May that killed 22 people attending the venue for a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the National Policing Lead for Counter-Terrorism, said: “The investigation into the terrorist attack in Manchester is large-scale, fast-moving and making good progress.” There have now been ten arrests made. Eight males aged between 18 and 38 are detained in custody on suspicion of terror offences. Police believe Manchester-born bomber Abedi, who was from a family of Libyan origin, acted as part of a network.

Rowley continued: “The public would expect the police to do everything possible to prevent further attacks and keep them safe. We’re flexing our resources to increase the policing presence at key sites, such as transport hubs and other crowded places. We’ll also be reviewing key events over the coming weeks.”

He went on to state: “As the Prime Minister has already said, I’ve asked for support from the military to be deployed alongside the police. This will free up armed officers from certain guarding duties in order to support the wider response. This is part of an agreed and well-rehearsed plan, with military personnel remaining under the command and control of the police service.”

At this time, the police service is asking members of the public to remain calm, but alert at all times.

Advice for the business community

Mark Rowley

Mark Rowley

Following the Manchester attack, it’s important that businesses reassure their staff to ensure they’re alert, but not alarmed. This is the right moment for businesses to review their security plans to ensure that the measures they should already have in place are still current and have been tested to make certain staff are both prepared and confident.

In response to the recent events in Manchester, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) wishes to reinforce and emphasise the importance of vigilance and the need to report any concerns to the anti-terrorist hotline.

All SIA-approved qualifications for security personnel include counter-terrorism awareness. The knowledge of staff members who have received Project Griffin training should now be refreshed.

The following guidance for security company personnel is taken from the National Counter-Terrorism Security Office’s recently launched National Stakeholder Menu of Tactical Options. Be proactive in challenging visitors, vehicles and anything out of place and consider the following options (particularly around crowded places, the night-time economy and iconic sites):

*Review patrol strategy (be unpredictable) and adopt high visibility clothing

*Brigade resources with neighbouring contracts/buildings

*Report any suspicious activity in a timely manner. Early reporting of suspected hostile reconnaissance is vital in combating terrorism

*Implement communication links with surrounding premises to pass on information about suspicious activity/behaviour

*Consider closing non-essential access and exit points

*Focus CCTV on all communal areas and vulnerable points

*Ensure that CCTV is fit for purpose

The SIA recommends that security operatives refresh their knowledge on how to be vigilant by watching the video ‘Personnel Security – Eyes Wide Open’ produced by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. Watch the video Personnel Security – Eyes Wide Open and download the guidance: Protecting Crowded Places From Terrorism. Also, find out more about Project Griffin (counter-terrorism training for security operatives) and Project Argus (counter-terrorism training aimed at protecting a business or an organisation).

Statement from the BSIA

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has issued a statement in the wake of the Manchester atrocity.

Dirk Wilson, chairman of the organisation, said: “We at the BSIA were saddened to hear of the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester and would like to praise the quick actions of the private security personnel who would have been among the first to respond to this incident, placing themselves at considerable risk in doing so.”

Wilson continued: “In times of emergency, and indeed in day-to-day operations, private security personnel provide essential support to local police forces. They’re often the ‘unsung heroes’ helping to ensure the continued safety and security of the British public. Their ability to provide this vital service is thanks to the mandatory training they receive as part of our industry’s important licensing and regulatory regime, which plays a crucial role in making sure that private security personnel have the necessary skills and knowledge to support the police and the Emergency Services through even the most challenging of situations.”

In conclusion, Wilson said: “Of course, our thoughts go out to the victims, their families and the city of Manchester at this hugely difficult time.”

Yesterday, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley stated: “We greatly value the crucial relationship with our intelligence sharing partners around the world such that we can collaborate and share sensitive information in order to defeat terrorism and protect the public at home and abroad. While we don’t usually comment on information sharing arrangements with international law enforcement organisations, we want to emphasise that, having received fresh assurances, we’re now working closely with our key partners around the world including all those in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance.”


About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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