The changing risk of terrorism
The last twelve months have seen a significant rise in the number of terrorist incidents in Western nations. Germany, the UK, Sweden and France have all suffered devastating attacks at the hands of Islamic State (IS) but the nature of these attacks differs from the traditional terrorist attack seen in previous decades with a shift towards less sophisticated but less predictable attacks by homegrown extremists.
According to Jonathan Wood, director of global risk analysis at Control Risks, “there has been a sharp increase in the frequency and apparent attractiveness of vehicle ramming and knife attacks, which are well within the capabilities and resources of most homegrown extremists unlike, for example, constructing a reliable bomb. Where available, firearm attacks remain a plausible and severe potential threat.”
Though direct threats and attacks against commercial assets are rare, the increase in threats against civilian targets can have an indirect but severe impact on businesses. Disruption to the local area through lockdowns and cordons and staffing issues due to employees caught up in incidents are just two examples of indirect risks posed by terrorist incidents.
To offset these risks it’s essential that businesses regularly review and update their procedures, risk assessments and existing policies to best protect themselves from potential threats. It’s also worth considering the provision of training and reassurance to employees both in anticipation of incidents and following an incident.
Given the unpredictability of the increased ‘lone wolf’ attacks that we’re seeing it’s also essential that businesses implement a robust crisis management plan. As with other procedures this plan should be regularly reviewed, updated and rehearsed in order to minimise business interruption in the event of an attack.
An integral part of this crisis management must be internal coordination and communication. Though this is understandably more challenging for larger companies, regularly undertaking crisis simulations will help streamline the processes and help businesses overcome crises.
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