The Department for Transport (DfT) has published best practice guidance for goods vehicle operators and drivers to help them mitigate the threat of ‘vehicle as a weapon’ (VAW) incidents, such as those deployed in terrorist attacks.
It covers topics including fostering a positive security culture, personnel security, operating centres and maintenance facilities, as well as vehicles themselves.
“VAW is a low complexity methodology requiring little or no training,” said the DfT.
“With a plentiful source of vehicles on UK roads, it is therefore within the capability of individuals to try and steal one and use it in an attack.
“Crowded public spaces are targeted by this type of attack. There are a range of online terrorist and extremist materials aimed at inspiring terrorists to carry out VAW attacks and previous attacks have encouraged copycats, who now see VAW as a successful means to cause terror.
“Lorries and vans pose an increased risk if used in VAW attacks because of their size, profile and weight, all of which increase the potential impact.”
The department points to the hundreds of injuries and fatalities caused in VAW attacks in recent years, and advocates developing a strong security culture within organisations. This will encourage workforce engagement with security issues, raise awareness of relevant threats, and reduce risk of insider incidents, says DfT.
“Procedures for reporting any unusual behaviour to supervisors and police, should be developed and briefed to all staff,” it advised.
“The public already contribute intelligence to around a third of the most serious terrorism investigations. Staff should be reassured that they need not be concerned about wasting police time or getting someone into trouble.”
Vigilance will be further promoted, says DfT, by putting in place systems for recording site security patrols, monitoring and checking visitors and vehicles.
“Identification passes should be issued to staff and visitors and worn at all times. All staff should be encouraged to challenge anyone on your premises who is not wearing a pass.”
Security awareness should extend to any contractors used for vehicle maintenance, DfT contends.
“If your vehicles are repaired and maintained off site you should ensure that the site’s security is appropriate,” it said.
“Maintenance staff, including sub-contractors should be made aware of your company’s vehicle security policies and procedures. The maintenance agreement between the vehicle operator and the vehicle maintenance company should include a duty to secure the vehicles and keys correctly.”
The guidance advocates the formulation of a company security plan, including allocation of staff responsibilities, risk assessment and identification of preventative measures.
“Collect feedback from drivers and consider the drivers’ needs and wishes in day-to-day vehicle security management,” it advises.
The department also advocates robust pre-employment checks for all employees, to help mitigate insider threat by deterring, detecting and denying employment to individuals intending harm to the organisation.
“Check a driver’s references and previous employment history (minimum of five years),” advised DfT.
“Speak to previous employers. Inform applicants that false details on application forms may lead to dismissal. Check driving licences are valid and look for endorsements before you employ someone, and then at six-monthly intervals afterwards. Drivers should tell you of any changes to their licence.”
It also advised checking whether applicants have pending prosecutions or court sentencing decisions, to use only reputable recruitment agencies, and to ensure such agencies have carried out the above checks, including for criminal records.
Site security is a major theme of the guidance, and a range of advice is included regarding locks and seals, control of access to operating centres, and the storage of vehicle keys. Procedures for visitors and contractors are also covered, as well as patrols, security infrastructure, CCTV, and the movement of unauthorised vehicles on site.
DfT advocates including security checks as part of the required roadworthiness walk-around checks, and has published a checklist of security tips for goods vehicle drivers.
The importance of securing vehicles is emphasised, including during the operation of engine-powered auxiliary equipment when the driver is not in the cab. Off-site parking is also covered, with tips on precautionary measures at unsecured locations.
“If you are approached or stopped by police, or an authorised public body [at an unsecure location], only open the cab door window after officers have shown their identification and inform your transport operator,” says the guidance.
“If you suspect the individual is not an authorised officer, and they couldn’t produce their warrant card, keep the cab locked and stay in the vehicle, drive to the nearest police station or call 999.”
The DfT also advises that internal and external livery and markings are removed when vehicles are disposed of or sold, to avoid potential use by others for malicious purposes.
Security features to keep both the driver and vehicle safe and secure should be considered during the vehicle procurement process, the department says.
“The decision will depend on what type of operations are being undertaken. A vehicle being used to multi-drop in a town centre might need to be fitted with an ignition immobiliser, while an international haulage operator might need to think about load space monitoring…
“The operator must decide what security and safety equipment is most appropriate for their vehicles, from sophisticated electronic engine immobilisers and in-cab cameras to simple steering locks: anything that deters the theft of the vehicle should be considered.”
In a foreword to the guidance, senior traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt said: “The modern world can feel like an increasingly dangerous place. The use of vehicles as a weapon to injure and kill people has become a real threat, which means people who operate and drive commercial vehicles need to act. It is vital that transport businesses adopt a responsible approach to security.”
The full guidance is available on the gov.uk website.
Security: 10 tips for drivers
DfT provided a range of security tips for goods vehicle drivers as part of its guidance, including:
- Avoid talking about loads or routes with unauthorised persons, or posting route or location details on social media.
- Lock and secure the vehicle while outside the cab and keep the keys safe, including during loading and unloading.
- Carry out visual walk-around checks for security when leaving and returning to the vehicle, to ensure no tampering has occurred.
- Never carry goods for anyone, except for the authorised load.
- Inform the transport office immediately if you are forced to change your route.
- If someone is acting suspiciously or something doesn’t feel right, at the depot or on the road, report it via the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) campaign, call 0800 789 321, and contact your company.
- Don’t allow unauthorised passengers in the cab.
- Keep your phone with you, fully charged, and store important numbers.
- Keep personal security in mind, and ID documents and wallets secure and out of sight.
- Beware of deception attempts – for example, by bogus police or DVSA officers.