Philip Ingram MBE provides an understanding of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation for non-specialists.
In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of terror attacks carried out using vehicles. These attacks have become a popular tactic among extremist groups due to their simplicity and effectiveness. The use of vehicles as weapons allows attackers to cause mass casualties and instil fear in the public.
One of the most notable terror attacks involving vehicles occurred in Nice, France in 2016, where a truck was driven into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, resulting in the deaths of 86 people and injuring hundreds more. This attack highlighted the devastating impact that a vehicle can have when used as a weapon.
Another significant incident took place in London in 2017, when a van was driven into pedestrians on London Bridge, followed by a stabbing rampage. These attacks serve as a grim reminder of the ever-evolving nature of terrorism and the need for constant vigilance in ensuring public safety.
Governments around the world have been implementing measures to mitigate the risk of such attacks, including the installation of barriers and bollards in public spaces to prevent vehicles from accessing pedestrian areas.
However, it is crucial for intelligence agencies and law enforcement to remain proactive in identifying and thwarting potential threats to prevent further tragedies. As a result, the need for effective Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) strategies has become paramount. The types of attack using a vehicle tend to fall into 3 categories:
So, what is Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM)? In essence it is a critical discipline within protective security, focusing on reducing the risks associated with vehicle-borne threats posed by terrorists and criminals.
HVM involves the deployment of measures informed by threat assessments, vulnerability analysis, and the specific needs of the enterprise requiring protection. The foundation of a robust HVM strategy lies in security risk assessments, planning, design, and the implementation of risk-based measures.
HVM measures encompass a range of integrated security processes, procedures, and physical obstructions designed to counter vehicle-borne threats. These measures include deterrent communications, security awareness, incident response planning and training, operational security, traffic management, and the deployment of physical obstructions such as vehicle security barriers and traffic calming measures. A thorough threat-based assessment is critical to understand what measures may be needed to mitigate any threats.
A crucial element within the realm of HVM is the deployment of Vehicle Security Barriers (VSBs). VSBs are physical security devices that provide perimeter protection to defined areas and control vehicular access. These barriers play a vital role in mitigating various styles of criminal or terrorist vehicle-borne threats. By effectively preventing vehicle access, VSBs act as a powerful deterrent against potential attacks.
Passive VSBs are commonly used for perimeter protection and to enforce blast stand-off distance. They include fixed or removable bollards, planter units, structural walls, enhanced fences, specialist structural cycle racks, integrated or strengthened street furniture, earthworks and level changes, water features, and strategically placed trees. These barriers provide a visible and physical obstacle to vehicle access while maintaining the aesthetics of the surrounding environment.
Active VSBs are deployed at Vehicle Access Control Points (VACPs) where secure site access is required. These barriers include retractable bollards, road blockers, and various types of gates such as folding, rising, sliding, or swinging gates. Active VSBs allow authorised vehicles to pass through while effectively blocking unauthorized vehicles from entering protected areas.
The integration of HVM measures within the public realm has become increasingly common. While ensuring the safety and security of crowded places, it is essential to strike a balance between implementing effective security measures and preserving the functionality and aesthetics of public spaces. The design and placement of VSBs should consider various factors, including accessibility, traffic flow, and the impact on pedestrians.
By carefully integrating HVM measures into the public realm, security professionals can maintain a balance between security and the functionality of public spaces. Functionality is threat related and this is where the best up to date advice can be obtained from the National Protective Security Authority (NPSA).
As the threat of vehicle-borne attacks continues to evolve, the need for effective Hostile Vehicle Mitigation strategies remains critical. But it is essential that all are aware of the basics so that the specialists can be given a clear steer on what the needs are.