Cut back shrubs, install locks: MI5 suggests anti-terror measures

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The Independent Online

The security service MI5 took the unprecedented step yesterday of issuing advice on how companies and the public could protect themselves from terrorist attacks, including a list of 10 tips on surviving bomb blasts and detecting spies.

The security service MI5 took the unprecedented step yesterday of issuing advice on how companies and the public could protect themselves from terrorist attacks, including a list of 10 tips on surviving bomb blasts and detecting spies.

Publication of the advice, which includes such measures as installing locks, CCTV and car park barriers; and cutting back shrubbery around buildings, reflects a belief that an attack in Britain by supporters of the al-Qa'ida terror network is inevitable.

Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director general of MI5, said: "Traditionally, this advice was confined mainly to government, but the threat of global terrorism makes it important for us to extend this advice to a wider range of people." On the issue of a bomb threat, the security service says: "[Bombs] may comprise one or more of the following: explosive, fragmentation, incendiary, chemical (gases, poisonous substances), biological (organisms, spreading disease), radiological (radioactive), or nuclear."

Noting that "most casualties from urban terrorist attacks are from flying glass, especially from modern buildings," MI5 advocates the installation in offices of anti-shatter glass or bomb-blast curtains. Businesses should also plan evacuation routes and bomb shelter areas, it says.

MI5 adds: "Most bomb threats are made over the phone" and suggests firms train staff who may receive a bomb threat - such as switchboard operators - in their response to, and record of, such a call. The website advises companies to make contingency plans for the aftermath of an attack, including damage to buildings, loss of IT systems and communications and disruption to staff, including in extreme cases death or injury to employees .

On a section dealing with the threat of an "insider" or spy within a company, MI5 warns: "The motivation of disaffected individuals includes personal gain, boredom, revenge or sympathy with some external cause. A vulnerable member of staff could also be coerced or blackmailed; others may be [affected by infiltration] from outside." Advice includes checking the identity and possible criminal record of new staff members. Areas where sensitive information is stored should be monitored and outside contractors subjected to thorough checks.In its good-practice guide, MI5 advises businesses to carry out risk assessments and suggests that security issues should be overseen at board level. It has also called on firms to analyse their mail-handling procedures.

On the terrorist threat facing Britain, it says: "The main terrorist danger to the UK and to British interests overseas comes from al-Qa'ida and associated groups. These groups seek to attack Western and Israeli or Jewish interests worldwide, as well as targeting Muslim nations they consider hostile.

"The threat from international terrorism remains real and serious. Osama bin Laden has, in several statements, publicly named Britain and British interests as a target, and encouraged attacks against them."

The website's address is www.mi5.gov.uk

TOP TEN TIPS ON HOW COMPANIES CAN PROTECT THEMSELVES

1 Keep access points to your premises to a minimum. Consider introducing passes for staff and procedures for booking in visitors and contractors. Possibly search bags and introduce a barrier system for cars.

2 If moving to another building, plan your security measures from the outset.

3 Train staff in emergency and evacuation procedures, and rehearse them regularly.

4 Keep public areas tidy and well lit. Cut back dense shrubs.

5 Carry out a risk assessment.

6 Install locks on windows and doors, CCTV, and alarms.

7 Consider a mail room away from your main premises.

8 When recruiting staff or hiring contractors, ensure that they are who they say they are by checking documentation.

9 Ensure that those who supply, operate and maintain your IT systems are reputable and reliable.

10 Plan how your business will continue to function if your premises or IT systems are out of action.