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Loss Prevention against Terrorism [Hardfacts]


In recent years the world has had to come to terms with terrorist crime. The threat presented in the United Kingdom from international terrorism remains very real and serious and an attack or even multiple attacks may be mounted without warning, as was demonstrated in London during July 2005, London & Glasgow in July 2007 and Paris in 2015.  . Such events underline the need for all businesses to plan to avoid terrorist acts, or at least to minimise their consequences.

No business can be immune from such attacks and security measures must also take into account new non conventional threats such as bio-terrorism. It would be naïve to assume that everyone can prevent the determined terrorist from achieving their objective, but through common sense risk management techniques, their task can be made much more difficult.

Experience proves that it is much easier for businesses to plan for the likely effects of such events logically and objectively in advance, than react in the aftermath. The following is a general guide to measures that can help contribute to the reduction of the potential threat posed by terrorist activities.

Business Continuity Plan

The speed with which organisations in the City of London responded to major terrorist attacks on their offices, highlights the benefit of an effective and detailed business continuity plan.

In order to manage the consequences of a disaster effectively, the plan should embrace both emergency procedures (Incident Management) and business recovery.

Particular attention should be given to computer and communications systems. Contingency measures and plans of action should be drawn up to cater for the replacement and re-siting of equipment or records. The plan should include detailed procedures that would enable full recovery of data from back-up data or other media.

Plans should be reviewed and tested regularly and copies kept away from the building.

Should the plan need to be invoked timing will be vital. Activity should be co-ordinated by utilising the plan in a flexible manner, to take account that access to all parts of the building may not be immediately possible.

General Security

General security precautions should be in operation to doors and all accessible windows and an intruder alarm system considered for unmanned or sensitive areas.

Visitor access to areas not normally open to the public should be controlled and consideration given to access control equipment, employment of security personnel, closed circuit television (CCTV) systems and security lighting.

CCTV has proved to be a valuable tool not only in the fight against crime but also in the analysis of recordings following terrorist incidents. Police forces recommend that video recordings be kept for a minimum of 28 days to enable any information that may be captured on film to be used to the maximum effect in the event of an incident being recorded.


Members of staff should be aware of the need for vigilance. They should be alert to the presence of suspicious objects, within or in the vicinity of the premises and to the actions of persons acting in a strange or abnormal manner. Vehicles which look out of place or have been left in car parks overnight may be suspect. Anything which causes concern should be reported to the Police immediately.

Guidance should be contained in staff handbooks or induction training, including clear instructions to reception staff and telephonists for handling bomb threats, where appropriate. Further advice on dealing with the incident can be included in the Incident Management section of your Business Continuity Plan.

Post Room

Although the risk of genuine explosive, incendiary or bio-chemical hazards being sent to most companies is extremely low, the threat posed by suspect mail should be taken seriously. Contingency plans and control measures need to be documented, kept up to date, communicated to relevant staff and regularly rehearsed.

Good Housekeeping

Good housekeeping, which ensures that all areas are kept clean and tidy (inside and out), reduces the opportunity for an explosive device to be planted undetected.

Searches may be conducted as part of routine good housekeeping, especially at the close of business. The frequency of searches should be increased in response to a specific threat or when there is a general alert about incendiary or other types of attack. The members of staff nominated to carry out the search do not need to be expert in explosives or other types of device but they must be familiar with the premises they are searching. They are looking for any items that should not be there, that cannot be accounted for and that are out of place. Wherever possible the search should take place in pairs

Protection of Building, Equipment and Work in Progress

Products are available which can help to reduce the possibility of injury/damage in the event of a terrorist explosion. For example:

  • Laminated Glass
  • Security/anti-shatter window film
  • Anti-blast curtains

Glazing products should meet the requirements of BS EN 12600:2002, Class A or B, and must be professionally installed.
The covering of VDUs, photocopiers and fax machines, together with the operation of a ‘clear desk policy', will help to reduce damage to equipment and work in progress.

Fire Fighting Equipment

All should be regularly checked, in working order and readily available for use. Sprinkler systems have been shown to be extremely effective in limiting the extent of damage from these incendiary devices.

Key Action Steps

  • Review current security procedures and make security awareness part of your company's culture
  • Retain copies of CCTV tapes for at least 28 days, where applicable
  • Communicate clear instructions to staff and train them in emergency procedures
  • Evaluate existing protections to all perimeter openings and key equipment
  • Prepare a Business Continuity Plan, incorporate review dates to ensure its effectiveness and update it as necessary
  • Ensure good basic housekeeping inside and around your buildings

Further Information Sources

Aviva Risk Management Solutions can provide advice on security precautions and assist in the preparation of business continuity plans.

Various websites offer further general guidance and advice including the following:

UK Security Service

Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure

UK Resilience Cabinet Office

The Counter Terrorist Security Advisor at your local police force.

"Business Resilience Guide for Business" - a document developed under the Insurer's Fire Research Strategy Funding Scheme and published by the Fire Protection Association.

The British Research Establishment - Garston, Watford, Herts, WD25 9XX. Telephone: 01923 664000.

BS 6206: AMD 5 Impact performance requirements for flat safety glass and safety plastics for use in buildings (AMD 8693) 1981.

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Please Note
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.

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