2005 – Security awareness training for employees
For a few minutes
last week on the day of the bomb attacks on London
I felt a sense of relief that I was working from
home and had no pressing need to be in the capital.
I am travelling around on the tube to various
appointments that I make in order to stay in touch
with the people whose work informs these columns.
But this day my diary was clear.
The relief could
have turned to smugness or a self-centred belief
that home working is one answer to the terrorist
bomb. We cannot be harmed if we retreat to our
personal castles. Instead I thought the opposite.
I missed the solidarity that arises in shared
adversity. You cannot stand up and be counted
if you are working in your home retreat.
All those company
e-mails about safety procedures, transport problems
and the state of alert mean nothing when your
greatest personal concern is the need to run to
the shop for some printer ink.
had discovered something worth preserving –
a determination to stand together. Rarely can
a city have experienced such a shift from celebration
to mourning. The Olympic confetti still littered
the ground as explosions rocked the streets. Within
minutes we were witnessing something in which
the UK can take great pride: the efficiency and
expertise of the emergency services.
are known for the quality of their cheeses, their
oil supplies or their ship-building. The British
are good at emergencies. So good, in fact, that
UK security skills have become a significant overseas
The lesson had
been underlined to me a week earlier in a visit
to a private training facility that is channelling
UK security expertise to markets all over the
world. Alan Hatcher, the founder of The International
School for Security and Explosives Education (ISSEE)*
based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, has developed a
business selling a growing range of security training
in a market that has grown significantly since
the destruction of the World Trade Centre in 2001.
Co-incidentally it ran its first course on aviation
security on September 12 that same year.
Mr Hatcher has
one of those CVs that you could not make up. It
charts his rise through the ranks of the army
before making a rare inter-services transfer to
the RAF to work in bomb disposal that gave him
a comprehensive knowledge of explosives. While
studying for an MBA at Henley Management College
five years ago, he identified a need for training
in specialist bomb disposal-techniques among companies
and organisations engaged in mine and ordnance
be surprised what there is in the UK alone. It
is not unusual to find on a museum shelf a grenade
or a Napoleonic cannon ball that still contains
explosive material,” he says. So much buried
or discarded ordnance remains, particularly from
World War II, that the business runs courses for
archaeologists should their scrapings uncover
an unstable grenade or bomb.
Beyond the UK
the worldwide market for landmine clearance is
vast with some estimates suggesting there are
upwards of 100m active landmines around the world.
Cambodia alone still has about more than 4m mines
responsible for some 10,000 injuries and deaths
Before the formation
of ISSEE, says Mr Hatcher, most of the academic
training within the UK covering security and explosives
issues could only be obtained as components of
military or police training. Today the Tidworth-based
centre, shortly to transfer operations to the
former munitions site, RAF Chilmark, is providing
academically accredited courses to military, civil
and corporate clients in different parts of the
world, including China where ISSEE experts have
advised the Ministry of Public Security.
Some of the company’s
most popular courses that have become worryingly
relevant are aimed at helping people deal with
a security incident involving a hoax bomb or the
threat from an improvised explosive device. To
ensure that the more detailed advice gets in to
the right hands course attendees are subjected
to security vetting.
“It is important
that security personel are aware of terrorist
techniques. When the Bali bomb was triggered there
was an initial explosion designed to cause panic
and drive people in to the street where a secondary
device was waiting to be exploded,” says
potential for a terrorist bomb may need some revision
of evacuation procedures. In fire alerts staff
are sometimes guided to the stairwell but supposing
a suspect package has been planted near the stairs?
What then? There are still people out there who
think the best way to deal with a device is to
put it in bucket of water. Companies owe it to
their employees to ensure they have the security
staff who are competent to deal with such situations.”
Mr Hatcher believes
that some governments are focusing too heavily
on technology investment when they should be encouraging
greater investment in security awareness across
the workplace and in public places. “Since
9/11 the US has spent billions of dollars on upgrading
security equipment. A lot of that money would
have been better spent training people and in
less technical responses,” he says.
attendants are trained to recognise passengers
who may be troublemakers. Similar training could
be extended to staff at underground stations to
make them aware of suspicious individuals.
could be channelled in to the training of search
dogs to detect explosives. It is amazing what
dogs can do. Too often, however, we are using
high tech solutions for a low tech problem. The
terrorists are not using high tech equipment.”
Most of the ISSEE
training is supplied by accredited consultants
who can be called in to run courses on demand
ranging from the knowledge needed to guard a door
to the specialist skills required to recognise
and disarm an improvised bomb.
The bombs in Madrid
and London have demonstrated that the days when
companies could trade in blissful ignorance of
security concerns beyond that of the fire drill
The need now among
employers is to ensure they have sufficient security
awareness without panicking themselves in to creating
a corporate fortress. “Every single employee
could be given rudimentary awareness training.
It is not enough to ask people to report suspicious
packages to their supervisor,” says Mr Hatcher.
“What is suspicious?”
In the long term
more companies might seek to review their staffing
policies to determine how necessary it is that
some staff are in the workplace. If some work
could be undertaken just as easily outside a city
centre, employees should be given a degree of
discretion over their choice of workplace.
my diary I am beginning to revise my own working
arrangements, pairing down the time I spend in
London and clustering appointments on certain
This has less to do with security and more about
making better use of my time. If it also provides
a little bit extra peace of mind, then that’s