Our latest sector-focused risk report examined the evolving terrorist threat to the retail and hospitality sector. Intended to provide a better understanding of the terrorist threat to owners and managers of businesses in the sector, it also highlighted that all publicly accessible businesses simply can’t afford to ignore the continued risk of terrorism, which is no longer exclusive to cities and major towns but remains a nationwide threat.
Counter Terrorism Police recently warned the easing of ‘lockdown’ measures could provide greater opportunities for terrorists to operate, potentially leading to a surge in attacks. Most sectors have felt the financial impact of the pandemic, and the threat from terrorism is yet another exposure that could carry significant financial consequences for businesses.
Disruption to local economies
A localised terrorist attack is likely to cause disruption to local economies, loss of attraction and damage public confidence. Sales and footfall could drop significantly for several months after an attack. These downside effects would be particularly acute as businesses begin to recover from the pandemic.
Localised attacks can also affect the wider economy, leading to a decline in consumer spending, hotel reservations and flight bookings, and, in the longer term, even Foreign Direct Investment.
Businesses to ‘improve protection of the public from terrorist attacks’
The UK Home Office legislation- to ‘consider how legislation can be introduced to improve the protection of the public from terrorist attacks’ – will place greater responsibility on owner- operators of Publicly Accessible Locations (PALs), formerly referred to as ‘Crowded Places’ – defined as any place which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission. The legislation does not extend to private venues, such as places of employment, or other locations where there is not public access.
The legislation is likely to require that owners and operators undertake appropriate and proportionate protective security measures to prevent avoidable loss of life, undertaking counter-terrorism risk assessments, suitable training and other risk mitigation activities.
Legislative implications on UK businesses
Our terrorism risk experts believe that the introduction of Protect Duty legislation could have a similar impact to GDPR compliance in the UK, requiring a review of businesses processes and preparedness against terrorism, possibly for the first time.
In order to demonstrate compliance it is likely businesses will need to:
- conduct vulnerability assessments of their operating places and spaces
- mitigate the risks and vulnerabilities identified in these assessments
- develop and implement a counter-terrorism plan
- engage with freely available counter-terrorism advice and training.
The legislation will likely cover an extensive span of sectors, impacting at least 650,000 UK businesses, so its crucial businesses start to consider the implications and requirements sooner, rather than later.
Retail and hospitality businesses will no doubt be looking forward to a busy festive period, many of which have endured an incredibly difficult past 18 months due to pandemic lockdowns. However, as high streets, bars and restaurants become a hive of activity the UK Counter Terrorism and Metropolitan Police have warned of the increased likelihood of a terrorist attack.