After the recent suspected terror attack in Westminster, the threat of vehicle as a weapon attacks (VAAWs) has once again come to the forefront of public consciousness. Fortunately, there were no fatalities during the incident on Tuesday morning as the rogue vehicle came to halt having collided with an anti-terror barrier installed in Parliament Square. While the motivation for the Westminster crash is still unknown, it has highlighted the continued need for vigilance in the face of potential threats. In the wake of the Westminster crash, our sales director Gavin Hepburn was interviewed by Radio 5 Live to discuss the incident and the wider threat of lone wolf attacks.
Currently, Parliament Square is protected by temporary high-security barriers which have been in place for almost ten years. Though with this most recent incident the impetus now is on installing more permanent solutions. Senior police officers have been advocating the pedestrianisation of Parliament Square in order to further protect the home of British politics, a solution that is supported by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
As Gavin highlights in the interview there is a need to strike a balance between security and avoiding a fortress mentality. Pedestrians need somewhere that is secure but also lets them feel comfortable. There are now clever ways of incorporating high-security products in a more aesthetic and efficient way, through planters, street furniture and traditional stainless steel and cast-iron bollards. Increasingly at ATG Access, we’re seeing a demand for bespoke solutions that seamlessly blend into the environment, something that we have seen used to great effect in St. Pancras.
One of the worries that has been raised about pedestrianising these areas and increasing the number of barriers and bollards, is will it affect our everyday lives? To some extent yes it will, but if you look at airports or train stations how often do we notice the security measures protecting the outside of the building. When they’re designed to allow people to easily flow in and out of the building we don’t even give them a second thought.
The changing threat
In recent years we have seen a rise in what we call vehicle as a weapon attacks or VAAWs. These are fairly random lone wolf attacks using a vehicle, that target high profile sites, like the two attacks in parliament square that we have seen over the last year. Traditionally there has always been a push to protect critical infrastructure, something ATG Access has been a part of for 20 years, but it is now becoming even more important.
Over the last few years, the British security services have encouraged industry to develop answers to this emerging threat as well as encouraging private and public spending on solutions for the future and not necessarily today. Here at ATG Access, we have always strived to develop new products in a never-ending pursuit help protect a wider range of sites and the changing threats.
For example, our shallow foundation technology makes our high-security bollards easier and quicker to install, allowing them to protect a more diverse range of key sites like airports, train stations and government buildings. While more recently our Surface Guard temporary barrier was created as a solution for protecting crowded spaces at short notice. As for the future, we will continue to work diligently to develop new solutions to protect against terrorist attacks.
To listen to the full interview on Radio 5 Live follow the link and go to the 35-minute mark.