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More Than Moats

by msecadm4921

Fred Chedham, Manager for Defence and Security at Corus Bi-Steel, joined the steel manufacturer in October 2004 after 23 years as an army officer.

He talks about protection of people and buildings to Mark Rowe.

As reported in Professional Security in 2005, barriers made of Bi-Steel were deployed at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in Scotland; and at New Scotland Yard. Other applications have included Labour Party conferences; and the Palace of Westminster. The military, and government, have been used to dealing with threats for years, the years of Irish-related terrorism; and there is liaison between the state and what is termed ‘critical national infrastructure’ – such as transport, and financial institutions. But there is no common doctrine, Fred says, in meeting the new threats. Which is where Corus Bi-Steel and indeed other companies come in, seeking to offer more than a product, but looking at the problem that the product is meant to solve.

About the material

As reported in our November issue, New Scotland Yard has a 90m perimeter wall made of Bi-Steel – a steel-concrete composite material, according to the steel manufacturer. Panels of Bi-Steel offer blast protection and blast containment, whether used in the construction of buildings or to protect vulnerable parts of buildings – data centres, for instance. Or you could use the product at access control points and vehicle barriers. Panels consist of two steel faceplates, separated by an array of transverse bar connectors. The cavity is then filled with a structural grade concrete.

Glass and threats

What though of say financial buildings in the City of London, that want to look welcoming to visitors, and that do not want off-putting blocks of steel? “And that’s the challenge,” Fred replies, adding that you do not want the modern equivalent of moats, but as good a solution as you can, without compromising architectural value, or the environment people live and work in. He gives an example, of being invited to a site meeting at a financial institution. It was looking at putting in new gates, to protect the underground car park. So far so good, except that overlooked was the building’s glass on either side of the proposed gate – and in these days of what are termed assymetrical threats, someone might simply drive through the glass. Let’s not just look at what you think the problem is, Fred suggests – could there be a simpler, stand-off measure you could install, at a greater distance, which will do what you require, rather than a retro-fit engineering project, that could be more expensive?


Fred, then, speaks in terms of more than supplying a specified product but of agreeing with the client what the threat is. At one point Fred used the word ‘doctrine’ – analysis, operational data, forged by best practice, based on changing threats, and perceived threats. Put another way, as the lawyer turns to case law, so does the specifier, consultant, client, turn to best practice, as it becomes available. How fast can a vehicle go towards a building – what can it carry? When that force has been translated into an explosion, what is the situation going to look like? and what are people going to do? How will emergency services respond? That is, cause and effect are analysed so that the building manager can craft a response. Maybe temporary structures will be called for, as at party political conferences.


Whether you are responding to a bomb threat by producing stand-off, or internal structures to protect key assets – whether people or equipment, and whether only for the short term – you have to make sure that your physical security measures are not translating the force of an explosion into collateral damage. It may be, for example, that there is a first vehicle driven at a building, to punch a hole, for a second vehicle to deliver the blow. Putting up moats or the 21st century equivalent, may be inappropriate, because people may find a way around them. And your assessment of risk differs according to use of building – a hotel may be a low risk, until government ministers are staying there.


There is, then, a predictability about building when there is unpredictability about people? In reply, Fred talks about modelling how a threat might develop, what the effect of a threat might be in terms of collateral damage, destruction of infrastructure;and if you can then model how people would respond, unaided; add then subjective judgement; it’s a long process, Fred says, but you can then factor in scenarios, and their consequences, into a building design.


What of shopping malls, sports stadia, commercial places that want to look welcoming for visitors? Fred mentions the London 2012 Olympics; while you should not compromise on security standards, the Games are a festive and prestigious occasion. What security environment do you want – concrete barriers, fences, uniformed patrolling officers, helicopters? And security threats are evolving. Consider: the preparations for such a large event as a summer Olympics begin years before; if the UK had the 2008 Games, the planning stage that organisers are now at would be in 2001-2, and things have happened since then. Fred speaks of the beauty of a material like Bi-Steel; provided you get at a problem early enough, you can make or clad a room or a building in the product, as the project is costed, designed, then built.


A bomb is a bomb, Fred says, whether it delivered by the IRA, an animal rights protester, or Osama bin Laden. I mention Richard Flynn, security adviser and a detective sergeant at the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, a regular speaker at events such as the recent British Retail Consortium crime conference: he spoke of ‘a new face of international terrorism’. Fred speaks in similar terms: “The gloves are off.” Whereas the IRA struck on the UK mainland at Heathrow; Downing Street; and Bishopsgate; after 9-11, there can be and is indiscriminate and mass casualties; a different order of risk.


I mention too an interview in the February 2003 issue, with Major General Christopher Elliott who had joined Arup Security Consulting as a security strategist. He spoke in terms of a ‘trinity’ of physical, electronic and what you might call intelligence (staff checks, security awareness training) measures. Fred tweaks this, his trinity being hardware (things you can touch, feel and tap); people, who can bring together the processes, the plans and responses, including the reaction to a crisis, and people who can make decisions; and then there are items of intelligence, and analysis: “And I put them together, because the one tells you what your threat is, and the other translates what the threat means to you.” Do all that, and review regularly, and you measure risk and, Fred argues, you have discharged your responsibility.

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