Minimising the risk of public terror attacks

Terror attacks are extremely difficult to predict, but a Melbourne-based security expert says building owners can minimise the risk.

Matryx Consulting and RiskDynamyx founder Luke Percy-Dove says terror events usually occur while we are at work or out socialising.

“We are not exposed to these risks while in our homes,” he says. “While recent activities have targeted Melbourne’s CBD, incidents can occur anywhere.

Luke says the risk can be minimised if building owners, operators and managers ensure they do what is appropriate for their properties.

“At the moment, the big risk is people in motor vehicles,” Luke says. “Next month, or next year, it could be something quite different. We need to be prepared.”

Luke says most building owners and managers have limited knowledge about security issues and even less about terrorism and what to look out for.

He says while no-one other than police can prevent terrorism attacks, properties can be protected in a way in a way that makes them an unattractive target or minimises the risk.

For example, the proper use and placement of bollards all but eliminates the risks that currently exist with motor vehicles.

“While we are seeing a more proactive approach to security within local government, the commercial property sector is slower to move, in part because it is often difficult to determine what the priorities should be,” Luke says.

“Security risk management is about understanding what the risk is and appreciating what the consequences to the business are if that risk actually eventuated. Most buildings do it well. But I haven’t done a risk assessment yet where I haven’t been able to find a deficiency.

“There’s probably no building that couldn’t improve its security in some way.”

Luke says due to the changing nature of security threats, constant monitoring is a must. “Pretty much as soon as I leave the property that risk assessment is out of date,” he says.

“I treat the risk of a very severe security incident occurring like I would a building fire. Ultimately there’s very, very little chance of it happening but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have some level of preparation in place in case it does.

“We should be prepared. The risks are inherently low but prepare like you would to manage fire risk. It doesn’t have to be particularly onerous or come at significant expense.”

Keeping commercial property safe

  • Move to a greater focus on saving lives, rather than simply protecting property
  • Don’t ignore a threat because the likelihood of an incident is difficult to quantify
  • Determine what security measures are reasonable for your workplace
  • Remember that security improvements do not have to be complex or expensive
  • Maintain building amenity wherever possible

/Public Release.