09 Jul 2020 - By
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The public sector must act quickly to protect the high street against terror threats

As UK high street stores resume following months of COVID-19 induced lockdown, the risk of a terror attack also returns.

Although much has changed over the last six months, the current national threat level from terrorism remains at “substantial” which means that an attack is “likely”. 

Physical security specialist ATG Access has warned that “it is critical that Government and local authorities act quickly and decisively to keep pedestrians safe from potential attack” while they are visiting their local high street.

 

Return of the high street

High street giants Primark, Sports Direct and H&M have already re-opened their doors to the public across the UK.

When stores reopen in England on 15 June, high street footfall soared by 51% overnight compared with the previous week, according to Springboard data.

ATG Access warns that this increase could put the public at greater risk of terrorist activity by as civilian density in pedestrianised spaces has jumped, increasing the risk of attack methods such as hostile vehicle ramming attacks, wherein a terrorist uses a vehicle as a weapon to target crowds of civilians.

Iain Moran, director at ATG Access, said: “While the gradual easing of lockdown and the economy beginning to get back on its feet is to be welcomed, we must not forget that the greatly-increased number of pedestrians frequenting unprotected public spaces creates a substantial security threat which cannot be ignored.

“The queues we have already seen down our high streets, retail parks and other public spaces this week are not likely to be an isolated incident, but rather the new normal over the coming weeks and months while social distancing measures are in place.”

ATG Access has made several recommendations for councils to consider when implementing protection measures:

– Protection for crowded spaces, such as public squares and high street queues, using security barriers and products in line with the latest government advice.
– Signage to provide clear instruction of pedestrianised and protected areas.
– Alternative routes for vehicles visiting the city to ensure successful segregation.

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