By Bruce Alexander
There’s a few articles out regarding how the surveillance camera system that is so extensive in the United Kingdom failed to detect the Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) in London last week. I think its too soon to tell the what exactly happened that allowed the bad guys to get through the net. The U.K. forces and services are exceptionally professional and there’s no doubt they will get to the bottom of what happened.
The U.K.’s system of using cameras to conduct surveillance of public spaces works for the U.K. The U.K. has a long history of combating terrorism and over the course of time, the U.K. government, and the citizens of the U.K., have accepted surveillance cameras as part of the price for security.
I’m not going to pass judgment on the U.K.’s system of public space surveillance. Sufficed it to say, it’s doubtful that such a broad system could be accepted anywhere in the U.S. although more and more U.S. cities are using surveillance cameras for monitoring events in the streets.
Apparently there were some performance limitations and maybe even maintenance issues associated with the system in London which allowed the perpetrators of the VBIED plot to positions the VBIEDs downtown London.
Fortunately thanks to a few quick thinking citizens the
vehicles were identified and the plot was disrupted. This should serve as a learning lesson for the Executive Protection community.
Over reliance on one particular security system, regardless whether it is a protective security detail or physical security technology is asking for trouble. Each element in a security system, to include Executive Protection, has strengths and limitations.
Each security system should be designed, and used to maximize the inherent strengths of each component within the system and to minimize the inherent weakness in any particular component within the overall security system. The system should work as a whole and each component within that system should overlap another component within the larger system.
When designing an Executive Protection program, there should be overlap among each component within the program. The goal should be to avoid or eliminate, a single point of failure within the overall system. Over reliance on a protective security detail for detecting and responding to all manner of threats is asking for trouble.
The protective security detail has limitations, namely those associated with humans. Conversely, the best surveillance camera system in the world can not respond to an event nor can it anticipate intent. It can only record. It’s tool, nothing more. However working together in an integrated system, weaknesses are mitigated and strengths are enhanced.
When putting together an Executive Protection program, ask yourself, what is this particular security component designed to do and then ask how can I defeat that component? Then find another security system, procedure, tactic, equipment or method to mitigate the limitations of that particular component. Use the concept of defense in depth as a guideline for developing your Executive Protection system by building layers of security.