JSaRC broadens into exports

by Mark Rowe

Partnerships with industry and academia were stressed by Angela Essel of the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC), speaking this morning at International Security Week, the four-day online conference in place of the pre-pandemic two-day exhibition at London Olympia.

She described how JSaRC, set up by the Home Office in 2016, has so far done about 20 programmes of work, notably around ‘high footfall screening’ in ‘crowded places’ – or rather, as Home Office official Shaun Hipgrave told the Week on Monday, the official jargon now instead of ‘crowded places’ is to be ‘publicly accessible locations’.

The aim, with the official Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) was to identify if any persons entering a ‘crowded place’ such as a venue were carrying any explosives; and to do so without requiring people to take off any clothing, as in airport-style screening; thereby aiding the flow of people into a building. Site trials enabled equipment suppliers to test products in different lighting and spaces, and allowed the venue operators to see how their security staff used products, and whether those products could fit into operations.

JSaRC has also worked on drone detection and interception; aviation and border security; CBRNE (countering chemical and biological weapons); and online harms, seeking to reduce online images of child sexual exploitation (CSE). As that last example suggests, JSaRC is broadening beyond the Home Office to work across Whitehall, on more national security matters, Angela Essel said; with DCMS (the Department for Culture, which is in charge of the ‘online harms agenda’), the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign Office, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). JSaRC is also looking more at what is ‘exportable’, ‘with a security-prosperity hat on’, as she put it. Hence JSaRC is running virtual events during the Security & Policing show, which usually runs in March at Farnborough, but like other exhibitions will be running online in 2021.

Earlier she began by stressing that JSaRC was about partnerships with industry, and academia: “It’s trying to break down barriers and share information and create collaborative opportunities for industry and government to talk around industry challenges and problems.” She spoke of three objectives: to respond to UK ‘security challenges’; on security ‘outcomes’; and growing partnership with the sector, as she admitted that it can be hard for industry to navigate its way around government and the civil service.

As for covid-19, she said that industry offered lots of solutions, support and advice; JSaRC ‘stood up’ as a ‘front door’, able to put suppliers in touch with the likes of the immigration enforcement arms of the Home Office, besides the Ministry of Justice, Cabinet Office and BEIS. JSaRC is made up of secondees from industry, from senior managers to graduates; and the civil servants too are ‘very delivery focused’ and diverse, from marketing and project management to analysts. As an aside, Angela Essel is the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) diversity and inclusion lead – ‘I am really passionate about making sure that our BAME colleagues are ablke to get into national security and really have opportunities to develop their careers too’.

Speaking more generally she said: “We are incredibly busy; but at the same time it’s a really exciting time,” stressing how JSaRC is working more broadly from across the Home Office, to across Whitehall.

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