In the days after the Paris attack, following police raids on Daesh networks in the suburbs of Paris and Brussels, reports surfaced, mainly in non-UK media, of the potential for a city based chemical attack.
The British media has not really touched on such a threat, and rightly so. Scaremongering, particularly, on such a serious issue, is unacceptable and the British coverage to date has been mature and responsible. But businesses, large and small, should still be prepared. The call for government to invest in serious preventative measures is loud and clear. But, at a business level, mitigating the economic damage of a potential attack – whatever form it could take – is just as important.
Clearly the tactics of terrorism are evolving. New ‘lone wolf’ attacks, such as the gun attack on the Tunisian beach, or the attacks in Paris that spread across multiple locations and included a variety of crowded places, are difficult to predict, prevent or prepare for. Future attempted attacks will likely be different again, rather than simply mirroring those before them.
Terrorism caused by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear means, though highly unlikely remains a threat that must be evaluated and dealt with. Radical groups and terrorist organisations have deployed chemical and biological means in the past and if Daesh was able to deploy such weapons in the west, they would attempt to do so.
Businesses should therefore review their procedures for dealing with, and mitigating for, terrorist incidents that may affect their business, and this should include CBRN. Practical advice from one of our partner agencies, Avon Protection, is pertinent: review and rehearse incident operating procedures; undertake staff awareness training of key personnel; and, conduct a threat review of your business and the surrounding area. Any risk management strategy stands a better chance of success if it is comprehensive, robust and embedded within the organisation it is intended to protect.
Terrorism can involve terrible human tragedy and have lasting social impacts but consideration must also be given to the economic impact of terrorism, particularly for businesses. Mitigation is not just important for society and governments alike, but for small businesses and community hubs, including family-run restaurants, bars, venues, and cafes (which were the main targets in Paris).
Being able to provide prompt payment to business to cover property damage or loss of revenue due to business interruption is critical and, in the event of a terrorist incident, is fundamental to ensuring that society can again move forward and prosper.
The British Government established Pool Re in 1993 – in response to the series of IRA bombings across the UK – to provide terrorism insurance coverage for commercial property and business interruption. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pool Re’s remit was extended to cover chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incidents. Today, Pool Re is widely regarded to be the world’s leading terrorism reinsurance scheme.