A market-leading, tested and certified piece of HVM poorly specified and installed will not protect people if the worst happens. And yet, to the untrained eye, it will probably look as though it will do the job. Here, our MD, Iain Moran, discusses the need for due diligence when selecting an HVM provider, because this is not an off the shelf-solution or a one-size fits all; it is a safety-critical element of your counter terrorism strategy.

How can you be certain that your HVM will protect people?

I took a flight this weekend, and I took it for granted that, at every point in my journey, every safety critical element of my trip had been handled by experts. The aircraft was designed and built by experts. It was flown by a trained and experienced pilot. It was guided on take-off and landing by equipment, processes and personnel backed by expertise.

What has any of this got to do with HVM and counter terrorism? It’s an example of how members of the public place their trust in those responsible to do their due diligence in embedding the right expertise in what they do. I didn’t have to check the plane’s maintenance records or the pilot’s CV, because someone else had done that – and when it comes to HVM, the people being protected need to be confident those layers of expertise are embedded in the risk assessment, specification and deployment processes too.

Duty of care

In the counter terrorism sector, the challenge with ensuring that safety critical checks and processes are implemented is that there is no compliance or legislative requirement in place to enforce best practice – the public is reliant on the venues, events and publicly accessible locations they visit to deliver on their duty of care.

For those with a clear understanding of threat, vulnerability and risk, the due diligence to work with experts throughout the risk assessment, specification and deployment process is a given. At Crowdguard, we work with many event organisers, venues, stadiums and local authorities who appreciate the need for a full threat, vulnerability and risk assessment, and a vehicle dynamics assessment, undertaken by an experienced counter terrorism specialist, to inform a tailored HVM specification, aligned to risk, operational requirements and commercial considerations. They know that, without a risk assessment and expert advice on the most appropriate, proportionate HVM measures, people could be exposed to unacceptable levels of risk in the event of an attack. Our clients trust us to advise them and to select a complete solution from a wide range of certified and NPSA-approved systems, alerting them to any residual risk. They also trust us to install it correctly, to the agreed specification and method statement, with supervision by our trained operatives where required, ensuring safety throughout the deployment.

Due diligence

But inevitably, there will be those who will take shortcuts; procuring the equipment without investing in expert advice, and installing their HVM without the skills to ensure it meets its rated performance. This could be a venue or event organiser naively assuming they can procure HVM as an off-the-shelf product, in the same way as they’d buy a fire extinguisher or no entry sign. Or it could be an intermediary, offering HVM as an add-on service, without providing the expertise for expert risk assessment, specification and installation, either in-house or through a partner.

These are the scenarios that those of us who work in the counter terrorism sector want to avoid, because they leave both the events industry, and the public exposed to unnecessary and acceptable levels of risk. If you are responsible for procuring HVM, it is essential that you carry out stringent due diligence of your supply chain to ensure that:

  • Your risk assessment is a full TVRA and VDA process, completed by an experienced counter terrorism specialist
  • Your specification is aligned to the risk assessment and completed by a member of the Perimeter Protection Suppliers Association (PSSA)
  • The HVM systems selected are certified and endorsed by the NPSA
  • Your supplier advises you in writing of any residual risk or deviation from an ‘as tested’ configuration
  • The installation is delivered by trained and experienced operatives to an agreed configuration and method statement, with verifiable evidence of correct deployment
  • Supervision requirements are provided by experienced operatives

A trusted mark of quality

Membership of the PSSA is an excellent indicator that an HVM provider meets the standard of expertise and integrity to provide accurate advice and correct installation. At Crowdguard, we have worked closely with the Association in the development of their HVM Installers Scheme – HVMIS – which provides a framework for due diligence and a badge of trust.

Paul Jeffrey, Chairman of the PSSA comments: “Installation of HVM products is an essential part of the protection process and needs to be undertaken by fully trained and knowledgeable installers. PSSA have an HVM installer scheme which is open to all (including non-members) specifically to improve the installation quality levels and this will become a standard PSSA code of conduct requirement within the next few months. Untrained installers are a risk to the physical security of the public as well as reputationally to the manufacturers and installers of the products being used for protection.”

It is up to those of us in the counter terrorism sector to uphold those high standards. But it is also essential that those procuring HVM demand them. I was able to relax on my flight, in the knowledge that I was in safe hands. The goal is for every member of the public who attends an event, a match, a festival etc. to feel equally at ease.

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