The UK has been shaken by three terrorist attacks since March 2017, with attacks in Westminster on 23 March, Manchester on May 22 and London Bridge two weeks later on Saturday night (3 June). In all three attacks, pubs and bars played a vital role in protecting people and providing shelter.
After the Manchester attack, which saw 22 people killed, former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office Chris Phillips warned pubs and bars to increase their security.
An unexpected attack can catch anyone by surprise. So what should you do if a terrorist attack happens close to or within your pub.
The official police advice for the public is to “run, hide, tell” if there is a weapons or firearms attack, meaning it is best to run away from attackers if possible rather than surrender or try to reason with them.
If this is not possible then hiding and securing your immediate surroundings is another tactic. This was the one that the staff at the Wheatsheaf, London Bridge, deployed when they locked the doors of the pub to keep attackers out. It can buy time for those inside to allow the police to arrive. When hiding from attackers it is also important to turn your phone to silent to avoid drawing attention to yourself.
And finally, if safe to do so, contact the police and warn others about the incident so they can take the appropriate action. The police have also issued an advice video.
There are things that pubs can do to prepare staff and their premises in advance.
Use resources available and check the guidance from the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO). It provides information for security managers working in crowded places, which is applicable to pubs, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, says the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).
The London Regional Counter Terrorism Protective Security Incident Update provides information on Saturday’s attack and has useful links to advice for businesses in the event of an incident.
Brief and train your staff
When you have an emergency plan in place, make sure all your staff are fully briefed on what to do and make sure any new staff are put in the loop.
Another step worth taking is to train staff in first aid. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls emphasised the importance of first-aid training for pub employees.
“There is tailor-made advice available that has been issued specifically for the purpose of keeping businesses informed and making sure that people remain safe,” she said.
“Businesses should make sure they put aside the time to familiarise themselves with the information that is open to them.”
Counter Terrorism advice
NaCTSO states there are some “simple, practical actions” pubs can take immediately to help improve the security of your venue.
- Review your security plans
- Identify your risks, based on the current threat
- Review your business continuity plans
- Decide what you need to protect and identify critical operations and functions
- Increase staff vigilance by briefing them on what to look out for
- Review evacuation, ‘invacuation’ and lockdown procedures. Ensure you have plans for vulnerable staff and visitors and check whether your pub has designated marshals to support this activity
- Identify ‘protected spaces’
- Review your emergency assembly point
Longer term action
- Regularly review the response level for your site or venue at security meetings
- Clearly display signage informing staff of the building response level. This should not be displayed in public areas
- ‘Recruit’ staff to be vigilant for and immediately report suspicious activity and items.
- Ensure First Aid Kits are fully stocked and staff know where they are kept
- Ensure Crisis Incident Kits (grab bags) are available and up to date