Open, publically-accessible locations, known as soft targets, are just that – they’re soft. Soft on security, soft on weapons detection and soft on emergency preparedness.
Sadly, incidents in Canada, the U.S. and overseas point to soft target locations as a focus now for criminals and terrorists because they maximize fear. Our hotels, fast food restaurants, places of worship, amusement parks, sports arenas, museums, shopping malls, banks, hospitals, concerts and street festivals are all at risk. Consider the following in soft target areas:
Conduct a Soft Target Security Risk Assessment
We value and want to keep businesses and community institutions “soft,” or easily accessible to the masses. Therefore, we must look for other ways to minimize risk in these facilities simultaneously. The first step is to conduct a threat/security risk assessment of your facility to identify preventative security measures. An all-inclusive facility risk assessment will:
- Engage building owners/managers to carefully and realistically assess if and why their building could be a soft target.
- Establish an on-site liaison to regularly communicate with local, state and federal law enforcement, emergency responders and public health organizations.
- Discuss specific risk exposures with your HUB broker, who can help create company and location-specific security plans.
Leverage Low-Tech Security Measures
Without putting a whole lot of cash into new security technology within your facility, there are several low-tech security measures you can leverage to put subtle, yet reliable, barriers in place. They include:
- Implement thorough background checks as a condition of employment.
- Institute mandatory verification of identity for all service personnel visiting your site, including those seeking to access utilities, alarm systems and other maintenance.
- Implement proper badge and identification requirements for all working staff.
- Incorporate the use of security landscaping, including decorative planters and bollards to prevent vehicles from getting too close to the building.
- Increase perimeter lighting.
- Secure access to HVAC utility rooms and other building “back door” entry points.
Encourage Employee Awareness Through Training
Surveillance normally occurs before attacks are carried out. Recognizing indicators will increase soft target attack deterrence and prevention. Employees should be trained to identify individuals who are:
- In the same location on multiple occasions
- Sitting in a parked car for an extended period
- Out of place, or alien to the environment
- Loitering at the bus or train stops for long periods of time
- Videotaping, photographing, drawing pictures or taking notes
- Exhibiting nervous behaviour
- Hesitating or looking around when entering a building
- Turning away when observed
Similarly, vehicles parked in a lot for an extended period, or in prohibited zones as well as suspicious packages, devices, unattended briefcases and other unusual materials are also cause for concern and should be immediately reported to authorities.
Contact HUB Risk Services to assist you in the development of a security risk assessment and customized company and location-specific security plans and reduce your soft target risk.