News Archive

Transport Security

by msecadm4921

The conference on airport and terminal security, from December 3 to 5 in London Docklands, at the ExCel Conference Centre, created much interest, reports regular Professional Security contributor Kenneth Rogers.

The exhibition stands were kept busy with the many visitors. Delegates from all over the world took every available seat in the conference hall. Prof Martin Gill whose knowledge on the security industry shone through on his valued comments after each speaker chaired the conference ably.
<br><br>
Transport Minister
<br><br>
The first speaker was John Spellar MP, Minister for Transport. Referring to the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie and September 11 disaster he stated these events will be on the minds of those with a professional interest in security. Mr Spellar then referred to other events such as when seventeen sailors were killed on board a US ship in the Yemen. He continued that the today’s terrorist would stop at nothing to achieve his aims. That it was vital for governments to defeat this threat by all of us joining together. He continued that this partnership couldn’t be overstated. Transport security goes beyond aviation and a lot of work has been done in dealing with this issue and a lot has to be done. That no single measure can provide security 100 per cent. This point was stressed a number of times during the conference ‘although seasoned security professionals were most aware of this fact! Importantly he emphasised the requirement to scrutinise all baggage and staff’s personal records. That there should be an interface between security and passengers. We recognise the competition in the industries but we must all work together. Mr Spellar then left the conference. I felt he would have increased his knowledge of this important topic if he had stayed and communicated with the delegates.
<br><br>
Keynote speech
<br><br>
John Mica, chairman of the US Aviation Sub committee of the House of Representatives Transportation, stressed the importance of gathering and commented that terrorism had a new face in attacking and involving considerable loss of life and devastation That terrorism goes beyond aviation security into the road, rail transport and shipping. He stressed the requirement to examine the new face of terrorism and the serious challenges and that we cannot live in a world dominated by terrorism. He referred to the new legislation in the US and the Home Security Bill. Importantly he stressed that unless we penetrated the terrorist organisations’ finances the problem would never be solved. That there was a requirement for cooperation between all of us. John Mica then pointed out that new technology was essential in the fight against terrorism, however he appreciated that airports can never be 100pc safe. He thanked UK security for their cooperation and finalised by saying: ‘We must spread the message we cannot tolerate terrorism.’
<br><br>
Met speaker
<br><br>
David C Veness QPM, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Special Operations dealt with ‘countering the threats to transport as a key part of national security’. He emphasised the critical links between aviation, port and terminal security threats and the wider, international counter-terrorism activity. He stated that terrorism had altered, that it was in Europe, and that transport was inescapable from terrorism. That the role of security staff in combating terrorism is absolutely vital. In the UK terrorism was not new; it has been intermittent for more than 30 years. However the major change in terrorist today was the suicide attack and picking several targets at the same time creating mass casualties. (We must remember this when dealing with an act of terrorism that another explosion may occur in the vicinity) That in the UK terrorism had changed from the potential car bomb to a neighbourhood attack. To counter terrorism required political will and military action. There had been achievements with enhanced crisis management, new laws and policies and a new government in Afghanistan. That plans had been developed to cover the next 10 to 20 years and a move from re-active tactics to pro-active strategic activity. The Assistant Commissioner outlined the current threat as international: Al Qaida. A number of associated groups were also named. The threats covered a range of attacks with the use of guns and bombs across a wide geographical spread. There targets included world cities such as London that they would aim at vulnerable targets, symbolic and significant venues. A number of other confidential issues were then discussed. The police officer concluded by stressing how vital it was to have a community business partnership that there should be a greater degree of partnership between public and private sectors a multi agency cooperation with enhanced community links was so important to defeat terrorism. I voiced my concerns that the terrorist continues to be well financed and what action was to be taken, as without finance they could not operate on such a scale ‘David Veness replied that new laws would assist in detecting sources of finance and that many countries were assisting on this issue. However there was concern at a number of small countries that could assist far more. David Veness has held the post of Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations of The Metropolitan Police since 1994 and fully understands the enormous responsibility that rest on his and his officer’s shoulders in the face of possible terrorist threats.
<br><br>
Multi-agency approach
<br><br>
Other speakers followed from the US Homeland Security and other bodies. All speakers stressed the importance of multi-agency cooperation and working more effectively with partners. The Department of Transport member stated that secondary screening of staff has to be in place, increased searching and revised programmes testing security. That there was a focus on port security and working towards international standards. That there was a requirement for vulnerability assessments. That security staff should be properly trained and awarded and shown to be valued. There should be security staff training with motivation and reward. Ken Robinson, of Orbax, who previously specialised in counter-intelligence in the RAF argued that ‘risk management is rarely applied’; if true I admit I am surprised at this calculation. I do agree however with his statement that the civil aviation should take the lead as they know the industry rather than the government who could advise on ineffective costly security systems.
Graham Greaves of GMA stated that there was a fundamental change in the form of aircraft hi-jacking as there was no negotiation; that’s gone. He argues that freedom will have to be challenged, referring to people seeing friends off at the airport, as the more people with access the more checking. As extra screening, patrols come at a price. Interestingly Graham is another speaker who states more attention to recruitment and. career structures and training. Then keep and value staff.
<br><br>
The railways
<br><br>
Ian Johnston CBE, QPM, Chief Constable of British Transport Police (BTP) clearly came across as having considerable practical policing experience. This interesting lecture reminded us of the many attacks that had taken place on the railway systems worldwide. That the UK had 10,000 miles of railways plus the London Underground that transports around three million people every day. BTP staff provide where possible maximum safety with a sense of safety with the minimum of disruption. These officers have to be vigilant to ensure people are not hanging around in stations or leaving things around. He added that the BTP had a 24-hour response unit operational 24 hours a day and had immediate access to experts to deal with suspect packages. Ian voiced enthusiasm for private sector support and assistance from the public. One of his aims was to implement new technology adding to his present CCTV system. However I am most concerned to hear his concern at the lack of finance from government to update the CCTV system and provide additional funding to deal with terrorism. (Are the government waiting for the railway industry to supply the urgent needed finances’ The British Transport Police are always willing to deal with public safety on the railways and the surrounding areas that is beyond their laid down jurisdiction. The Home Office must reconsider this issue of finance without delay in the interest of public safety.) Without doubt the British Transport Police have their work cut out for example last year with 7,000 bomb threats, 63 station closures and 36,000 suspect items. This Chief Constable welcomed the many questions from the floor and Prof Gill. During a private chat I became most impressed with his outstanding enthusiasm in providing a safe railway system. He is a keen advocate on CCTV systems and working in partnership with various agencies including the private security sector. After all this is the only way forward to provide a safer community.
<br><br>
Tech on show
<br><br>
The exhibition with demonstrations of up-to-date technology, training organisations, explosive detectors including the use of sniffer dogs added to a most interesting conference. I appreciated the smart, polite and efficient staff both in and outside the conference centre. I look forward to the next security conference at ExCel in London’s Modern Dockland. I will again travel by rail, confident that everything possible is being done to provide a safe journey.

Related News

  • News Archive

    Corruption Barometer

    by msecadm4921

    There is a widespread perception that the authority vested in institutions that ought to represent the public interest is, in fact, being…

  • News Archive

    Secure Access

    by msecadm4921

    HID Global announced it has secured an 85,000-unit order from a major US government agency for the company’s OMNIKEY contact smart card…

  • News Archive

    Cash Offer

    by msecadm4921

    Police in Burnley are urging local businesses to make the most of a council grant scheme which helps firms addresses safety and…

Newsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay on top of security news and events.

© 2024 Professional Security Magazine. All rights reserved.

Website by MSEC Marketing