The Need for City to City Cooperation Highlighted at UK Security Expo: Safer Cities Briefing

A distinguished panel spoke at a roundtable briefing at UK Security Expo in late November, with representatives from cities recently effected by terrorist attacks including Nice, Melbourne, Brussels, Berlin, Barcelona, The Hague, Rotterdam and London. This was the first in a possible series of international city to city events on the response to terrorism.



The event was opened by Former UK Security Minister, Admiral Lord West of Spithead, who outlined the aim of sharing best practice and lessons learnt from recent incidents, "Terrorists are good at learning from each other, we should be too," highlighting recent MET and MI5 briefings which stated, "The tempo and ferocity of recent terrorist attacks are now the new norm and not a blip."


The panel, chaired by Philip Ingram MBE, shared their local context and background, then went on to contribute ideas for the benefit all those for responsible for security around the world. The Metropolitan Police's Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations (DACSO) and Protective Security lead for Counter Terrorism Policing, Lucy D'Orsi, opened the discussion and set the overall scene, however, there was consensus from those gathered that further attacks are inevitable, coupled with the need to recognise the complexity of the response required.


The collective feeling from the whole panel was that the people in our cities want to continue with a free, open life style and are resistant to living in 'Barrier Britain', 'Castle Berlin' or 'Fortress Melbourne'. The resilience of the citizens of most of the cities which has suffered attacks was also considered an important consideration.  This was exemplified when following the attack on Barcelona, its citizens marched with the message 'We are not afraid'.


Partnership working is key


Although the political and organisational structures vary from city to city, a coordinated local, regional, national, international response was called for, with cooperation and dialogue between all groups. A trust and engagement at all levels, with a flexible and open-minded approach to security plans was called for, with a reminder that the police and security services are not the only ones involved. So, an interdependent approach, with different actions from all the different agencies, is what was needed and with that constant dialogue between all of those involved was critical.


A start to the partnership process between cities happened after the horrific attack in Nice with many cities signing the "Nice Declaration" outlining greater cooperation in the fight against terrorism.  Other cities were encouraged to get details and join the growing community of cities. 


The need to share has never been greater


Information sharing between public and private organisations was seen as one of the keys to staying ahead of developing threats and coordinating any response to an incident.  What was clear was the differences in how mature information sharing mechanisms were across all of the cities and organisations represented.  The London Cross Sector Safety and Communications Project gave a model that could potentially be adopted elsewhere, as did many of the public information campaigns launched by Counter Terrorism Policing such as ACT: Action Counters Terrorism and 'Make Nothing Happen', both of which encourage the public to report suspicious activity and behaviour.


Tied closely to this was the importance of community training so that municipal agents could detect signs of terrorism.  It was heartening to hear that many of the cities across Europe and Melbourne were making use of Project Griffin type training for security personnel and PREVENT training for wider members of the community. Nice had gone one step further with a 24hr hotline for terror related worries.


Create resilient citizens and involve the community


The clear need to develop personal resilience, as well as physical security, was outlined by a number of the panellists. Discussions lifted the focus highlighting everything that is put in place for terrorism can help deal with other crisis such as flooding.


Agreement was unanimous that there was a need for a change in people's mind-sets so that there was a better understanding that security is everyone's responsibility.  However, with that, the need for inclusive social policies that involve people in social processes around the way we live was highlighted as a particular challenge due to people migrating to community clusters that can become ghettoised.


As part of this policy development and community involvement the balance between what the public needed to know and what was secret was discussed.  It was agreed that this was something that the politicians in each of the cities need to consider as it is part of building public resilience.


Secured by Design


A number of the panellists referred to the need for a consistent approach to securing by design and it was suggested that there was a need to develop a global strategy for securing by design, in partnership with all the other sectors involved with urbanisation. The urban planning process should have protective security at its core and architects can start solving some of the problems through clever design.


The Cyber Threat


The importance of the influence of cyber was recognised with the call to continue with extensive efforts to monitor and respond to activity online. It was recognised that there was an improving effort from many of the social media companies and search engine providers to tackle extremist material on line but that this was just the tip of the so called iceberg.


The next steps were agreed that further city to city cooperation was needed building on the excellent start that is the "Nice Declaration" with the importance of keeping the dialogue and common understanding going across all those affected and those able to contribute to answers whether they be from public bodies, police or other stat security bodies, private security providers, equipment manufacturers, architects and more.


Andrea Berkoff, Editor, City Security magazine,,

Subscribe here for free quarterly copy: http://citysecuritymagazine

The Safer Cities (Closed) Brieifng will run again at UK Security Expo 2018.

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