‘Vehicle as a weapon’ risk addressed in DfT-sponsored standard

Vehicle as a weapon standard and guidance issued

The importance of operators taking steps to prevent the use of one of a vehicle as a weapon has been made clear in a Department for Transport-sponsored standard and its associated “robust” guidance document. It was published by the British Standards Institution (BSI) on 10 May.

Set out within the document is best practice for the implementation of measures that are aimed to thwart such an incident. It can be adapted to suit fleets large and small. The approach described by BSI ensures “that the measures adopted by an organisation are appropriate and proportionate to the security risks that arise from a threat actor obtaining and using one or more of its vehicles.”

Clear risk exists from ‘vehicle as a weapon’ attack

The document points out that large vehicles have already been used either to injure and kill pedestrians or as a delivery mechanism for explosive devices. However, it also notes that they can be utilised in other forms of serious or organised crime, including drug and people smuggling.

Numerous industry stakeholders have contributed to the creation of the standard. Among them are the Confederation of Passenger Transport, RHA, the Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme and the Traffic Commissioners.

Contained within the standard is best practice on:

  • Establishing a need for countermeasures against malicious use of vehicles
  • Initiating an approach to the security of an organisation’s vehicles
  • Developing a security management plan
  • Assessing an operator’s existing security risks and its existing security risk mitigation measures
  • Determining and developing any additional mitigation measures necessary
  • Responding to security breaches and incidents
  • Reviewing the security management plan.

Steps to mitigate ‘vehicle as a weapon’ risk outlined in standard

Among those headers are details of best practice measures that can be taken to prevent access to commercial vehicles by unauthorised persons and the steps that should be followed by senior management in assessing the overall risk. The standard notes that while such an assessment could define the risk as negligible, there may be “other benefits to be derived from implementing a security management plan.”

Also contained are details of how the workforce, contractors and visitors should be factored into vehicle and premises security measures. That includes checks of drivers’ references and previous employment histories and regular examinations of vehicles for signs of tampering. Provision of a means for staff to report concerns is also covered, as is security awareness training.

Vehicle as a weapon standard and guidance issued
Vehicle and site security measures to mitigate the risk of a vehicle being used as a weapon are covered in the recent BSI standard document

Physical security of sites and vehicles is explored in detail by the standard. It also examines the security of vehicles when they are parked away from base and how exposure there can be minimised.

While security risks may seem to be low for some organisations, the standard notes that where insufficient knowledge or experience in relation to those risks exists, advice should be sought from “competent external specialists.” It advises that regular reviews of the assessment process should be carried out at least every 12 months.

Company impact can be severe, document outlines

It is understood that there is significant concern among authorities in the UK, and particularly in London, that a large vehicle could be used in a terrorist incident. Attacks using smaller vehicles have already taken place in the capital on multiple occasions. While the human impact of such an incident is clear, the standard notes that such an attempt – whether successful or not – could severely damage an organisation’s function, assets, personnel and reputation.

Says BSI Head of Mobility and Transport Standards Nick Fleming: “This new standard, developed with operators of commercial vehicles, encourages good practice in the managing of security risks that may help to reduce the threat of vehicles being used in acts that may cause intentional harm to the public, or for organised crime.

“The standard highlights the growing importance of physical vehicle security measures to help prevent such criminal acts taking place.”

Accreditation for operators that comply with standard coming

A voluntary accreditation scheme for operators that comply with the standard will be launched in due course. The government says it is currently working with the industry to develop that process, although there is not yet a timescale for when it will be delivered.

Comments Transport Minister Robert Courts: “This is vital new guidance that will go a long way to help us in our fight against terrorism and organised crime. I wholeheartedly support this move and BSI in its important work.

“Terror attacks and organised crime involving commercial vehicles have had tragic and devastating effects in recent years, with every life lost leaving an unimaginable void in the lives of so many.”

Access the standard document here.