Private security companies ‘have anti-terror role’




By Mark Huband, Security Correspondent

Financial Times, 13 June 2003

Private security companies may play a role in the police response to a catastrophic terrorist attack, London’s top counter-terrorist police officer said yesterday.

David Veness, head of the anti-terrorist squad, said that private firms could provide essential support to police if large areas of cities were affected by a terrorist attack.

He said the police were considering providing training to private firms “to raise the level of capability when an event takes place”.

Mr Veness specifically envisaged the private security sector cordoning off affected districts, guarding buildings and compensating for insufficient police manpower.

“The police are looking for a strategic relationship with private security companies,” he said. “There are a range of opportunities for working more radically and imaginatively with them.”

Addressing business leaders at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Veness said that the presence of private security personnel at company premises already offered the potential for additional “eyes and ears”.

But the additional personnel they could potentially offer would help the police deal with a sudden large attack that would test all the emergency and security services simultaneously.

The LCCI was recently warned by the director-general of security service MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, that “it is not a question of if there is an attack in London, but when”. Businesses are now being warned that they must radically improve their readiness for an attack.

“We are operating dangerously too close to the point of an attack,” Mr Veness told the LCCI yesterday.

LCCI research has shown that 83 per cent of small companies in London have no contingency or security plans. US figures show that up to 50 per cent of businesses that do not have contingency plans go out of business permanently if they are faced by a big disruptive incident.

Nick Raynsford, the local government minister, told the LCCI meeting yesterday that there was inadequate attention being given to planning for the breakdown of business infrastructure.

“Too many people have assumed quite wrongly that they will be able to go on without thinking about their supply chain or their IT network. It’s those wider connections that are absolutely critical,” Mr Raynsford said.


© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2008.