Terror attacks should be built into business continuity plans, expert tells Milton Keynes business leaders

Dr Philip Smith MK BLP and professor Chris Kemp
Dr Philip Smith MK BLP and professor Chris Kemp

Every business should have the possibility of a terror attack included in its emergency planning – because anywhere can be a target says a leading public safety consultant.

Professor Chris Kemp, who has an international reputation as an expert in event and crowd management, delivered an unflinching wake-up call to members of Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership at their last Breakfast Briefing session of the year.

Too few organisations include terror attacks in their continuity planning strategy and too many of those that do, do not rehearse them he said.

Chris, CEO of the Mind Over Matter Consultancy, outlined how the terrorist threat, has shifted from attacking police and military targets to civilians and our way of life using trucks, cars, knives and homemade bombs. But while much attention was placed, quite rightly, on that threat it should be put into perspective.

In Europe in 2016 there were 1.8 million events involving police and emergency services and just 10 of those were terror related, he said.

The security and intelligence services are working hard to stop attacks, the police can respond to an incident within minutes and public information campaigns like Run, Hide, Tell and See, Say, Sort - for suspicious packages, were making us more vigilant, he said.

“But as business people we also need to look at our own businesses,” he said. That meant a response commensurate to the threat, training staff to be vigilant and identifying escape routes and secure places. Getting all staff on board with a business continuity management plan was key, along with regularly rehearsing a terrorist attack as part of that plan.

“We must train people about the threat and how to deal with it,” Chris said. “We need to be aware that if an event happens in or near your building, what is your contingency plan? Is there a back entrance/exit, can you get people downstairs and to a place of safety?”

Some people might think terror will not visit them but everyone is a target, Chris said. “When terrorists attack they are making a point, a statement that anywhere can be attacked.”

Chris, whose earlier career in the music industry began promoting concerts at The Pitz venue in Milton Keynes, also talked about his specialist area of crowd management and how new techniques, some pioneered by his organisation, were making large events around the world safer.

Thanking Chris, Dr Philip Smith, chair of MK BLP, said his talk had been fascinating and also sobering. “Terrorism has sadly become an almost every day event with attacks in many countries using everyday things like vehicles as weapons. Businesses have to take whatever precautions they can to protect their staff and their customers, and your presentation should encourage us to improve those measures.”