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Scotland Yard’s new counter-terror strategy: Use private guards

Officials said the vast number of private security guards employed at various venues could become an important part of police’s “national armoury” against terrorists.

world Updated: Oct 26, 2017 18:47 IST
Armed police officers patrol outside New Scotland Yard in London after a terror attack.
Armed police officers patrol outside New Scotland Yard in London after a terror attack.(REUTERS file photo)

Scotland Yard is planning to train private security guards as part of its counter-terrorism strategy to identify potential threats and add to their response arsenal in the event of an attack.

Mark Rowley, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner and the head of the UK’s counter-terrorism policing, told the National Security Summit in London this week that the vast number of privately hired security guards employed at various venues across Britain could become an important part of the police’s “national armoury” against terrorists.

“Vigilance in the public space is critical and there are many, many more private security guards out there than there are police officers. We are looking at how we train them more effectively to be a better part of the national armoury that we have against terrorism,” he said.

According to The Times, counter-terrorism officials want such security guards who work in shopping centres, entertainment arenas and other public spaces across the UK to have reconnaissance and response training as part of their accreditation process.

Under an initiative by the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office (Nactso), some of the many thousands of guards have already had terrorism awareness training.

The voluntary scheme, known as Project Griffin, equips security personnel with specialist skills in areas such as response to suspicious items, hostile reconnaissance, bombs, firearms and weapon attacks.

Rowley said that security guards were already trained in crime prevention and dealing with disorder but that his team was working with the British Security Industry Association to see if it was possible to include counter-terrorism training.

While Nactso has reportedly made it clear that security guards are not intended to do the job of the police or protect the public, the new initiative is aimed at training these security personnel to keep an eye out for any behaviour that might be suspicious and to report it to the relevant authorities.