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The high security industry is made up of various industries such as, Government, Military, Emergency Services, and Prisons where protection and security are of paramount importance. These sites all require the highest levels of protection from perimeter security, and access control points to wearable protective gear for security guards on duty. If these places have a breach in security, it can cause mass disruptions and major security issues. So, with the new year we wanted to know what major security issues high security sites could be facing in the future?

The first and most obvious security problem that high security sites face is the continued threat of terrorism. According to the Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Dean Haydon, preventing terror attacks is “more difficult than it’s ever been.” He stated to the Independent that, “Changes in the way attacks are planned, targeted and carried out had made them harder to spot, while the profile of terrorists has ‘completely changed’… The main threat we currently see is from people within this country that are being self-radicalised. The timelines have been shortened. You can go out and buy a kitchen knife in a supermarket and decide, ‘This afternoon I’m going to commit an attack at X location.’ In the name of whatever ideology, and it’s a terrorist attack. Would we see that coming? That’s really difficult to detect.”

Terrorism has been a security issue for many years, it’s not a new phenomenon, but as clearly stated by Dean Haydon, it isn’t the act of terrorism itself that is changing, it’s the ideologies, the individuals, and the ways in which they are carrying attacks out that is. Marauding terror attacks are becoming more common in the UK than meticulously planned attacks, highlighted by the CPNI as a high security risk.

  • But what is a marauding terror attack (MTA)? These are fast moving, violent incidents where an assailant moves through a location aiming to find and kill or injure as many members of the public as possible. With MTA attacks, many deaths happen within the first few minutes before the police can respond. The nature of an MTA means it’s especially difficult to predict and track. They could involve multiple attackers or just a lone individual, involve no force or deliberate forced, weapons used from bladed weapons, firearms, pipe or petrol bombs, vehicles as weapons or a combination. So, as Dean Haydon stated, terror attacks are becoming harder to predict and so, harder to protect against, but we can still prepare. Extensive analysis and research are being taken from previous MTAs in the UK and the rest of the world, in order to understand motives, patterns, or anything that could help national security spot these attacks before they happen. CPNI also have a Marauding Terror Attack Standard which has been developed to determine the delay from a physical barrier against several different weapons. All of which should help minimise and protect high security sites from these evolving terror attacks.

  • As mentioned with a Marauding Terror Attack, a various number of weapons could be used but one is becoming more prevalent for terrorist groups and lone wolf attackers alike. The use of a vehicle isn’t anything new but with tightening security for bladed weapons, firearms and supplies for bomb making, vehicles are a low complexity, high destruction weapon system. According to the CPNI, “Driving a vehicle into crowds is regarded by terrorists as attractive because it is likely to cause multiple casualties, is low complexity, affordable, requires little planning and skill and is perceived as less likely to be detected in the planning phase.”

    Vehicle as a Weapon (VAW) attacks are also usually the first part of a layered approach. With many groups getting out of the vehicles after causing destruction and using the marauding attack approach with other weapons. This could cause high security sites major damage, with vehicles causing injury and many tending to the hurt, putting themselves at risk for a followed marauding terror attack. So, what can be done to minimise the use of vehicles used as a weapon? Guidance given from the Government and there National Counter Terrorism Policing (NCTPHQ) campaign is “If you’ve seen or heard something that could suggest a terrorist threat to the UK do not ignore it, report it.” This is great practice for the public and should be implemented, but for a physical barrier, Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) systems can be used to diminish any attempts of using vehicles. HVM systems are used as a blend of traffic calming measures to slow down hostile vehicles as well as vehicle security barriers to stop hostile vehicles progressing and causing injury or death.

When we think of high security sites we think of Government buildings, defence sites, military bases and those premises that hold a lot of power alongside a lot of information that would be catastrophic if stolen. Espionage is the process of obtaining information that isn’t publicly accessible using either human resources or technical means. The UK is still a high priority espionage target with many actively seeking UK information to gain advantages. With the UK going digital, many believe that the high risk of espionage is through hacking, but there is still the threat of human spying that could rise in the future. An approach called social engineering, a form of tailgating, is commonly used to coerce and confuse staff members to let them into high security buildings. The social engineering approach could see individuals impersonating delivery drivers, waiting for employees to gain security access and asking them to hold the door for them. Something so simple yet could lead to a serious breach in security. Deploying effective access control systems that reduce tailgating could be used but if these individuals are on foot, another form of access control needs to be considered. Could turnstiles within these premises be used to access specific areas? Turnstiles that only have one rotation when used in conjunction with key cards would reduce the ability for staff members to be conned into innocently holding a door for an attacker.


Due to the nature of high security sites, they are subject to high-risk threats that could potentially affect and disrupt the UK’s national security if permitted. So, it’s crucial to keep up to date with potential attacks, in order to reduce the possibility of these outcomes. What other security risks could high security sites be facing in the future?

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