How to Stay Safe During the Festive Period

Dec 6, 2023 | Blog, Security

As the festive period approaches, it is important to remember that the UK faces a diverse and evolving terrorism threat. Among others, the 2016 Berlin Christmas Market and 2018 Strasbourg attacks act as a reminder of the intent of terrorist actors globally to conduct attacks targeting large crowds of people at this time of year.

Terrorist actors in the UK maintain the intent and capability to conduct attacks during the festive period, indiscriminately targeting members of the public at publicly accessible and iconic sites. The UK terrorism threat level remains at SUBSTANTIAL, meaning an attack is LIKELY.

As the festive period brings members of the public to high streets, Christmas markets, and hospitality venues in significant numbers, Pool Re Solutions seeks to provide measured and informed threat awareness and risk mitigation to its members, policyholders, and the wider public.

To ensure we keep one another safe during the festive period, Pool Re Solutions have published two sector-specific threat assessments for High Street Shops and Street Festivals/Outdoor Markets to inform and educate attendees and organisers as to the possible threats to these sites. These assessments will form part of a broader project conducted by Pool Re Solutions, defining the terrorism threat to over 100 UK sectors.

Additionally, below we provide risk mitigation advice, in line with Counter Terrorism Policing’s Winter Vigilance Toolkit.

Risk Mitigation Advice:

We all have a role to play in keeping one another safe when attending Christmas celebration events, whether you are a member of the public attending an event or a manager with responsibility for safety and security. Counter Terrorism Policing are encouraging those taking part in Christmas activities to remain vigilant. Whilst everyone should enjoy the festivities, people should be alert, look out for one another, and take action if they have any concerns by reporting it to staff, security, or Police using 999 in an emergency. The public should be confident and trust their instincts if something doesn’t look or feel right.

Those who are organising or are responsible for managing Christmas markets, events, and gatherings also have a key role to play in ensuring people’s safety.

Counter Terrorism Policing have released the Winter Vigilance Toolkit which businesses and organisations can share with customers, visitors and staff to raise awareness and ensure that everyone is alert and confident in reporting concerns.

Research shows that good security messaging can reassure customers and is a key factor that visitors look for when visiting public venues. Businesses and organisations can therefore download for free and share the Winter Vigilance Toolkit on social media, event pages, and advertising locations around high footfall sites where Christmas activities are taking place. If you are organising an event, such as a street party, then the terrorism threat should also be considered and adequately planned for. You have a responsibility to ensure that the event is safe and secure, and to consider the risk.

Practical steps that you can take to facilitate a safe and secure event include:

  • Include a terrorism threat briefing in the event planning preparations.
  • Make sure your staff and volunteers are briefed on what to do if something suspicious is reported.
  • Make use of low cost, simple, yet effective risk mitigation measures by following best practice advice on ProtectUK, including:
  • Vehicle deterrence measures. E.g., street furniture or closing of roads in coordination with Local Authority.
  • Conducting a search of your event space, prior to festivities beginning.
  • Ensure you and your staff can recognise suspicious packages. The H.O.T. protocols can be useful to assess if something is suspicious; Hidden, Obvious e.g. suspicious wires, or not Typical of the environment.
  • Consider effective communications in the event of an emergency, e.g. WhatsApp groups or air horns to alert event goers of danger.

Speak to your local police liaison or dedicated Counter Terrorism Security Advisor if you need more support in making sure your event is a safe and secure during the festive period.

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