Reinsurer warns of growing terror threat as lockdown eases

Retail and hospitality businesses across the UK have been warned of the rising threat of terrorism as the country further eases lockdown rules.

As yesterday signalled an end of a range of social distancing rules Pool Re’s specialist Terrorism Risk Division SOLUTIONS launched the second in a series of Sector Risk Reports which identifies a number of potential terrorist threats to the retail and hospitality sector.

The report assesses various attack methodologies, the likelihood of their occurrence and their potential impact on businesses. It also notes ways that retail and hospitality businesses can manage and mitigate terrorism risk, including increasing understanding, seeking advice, strong preparation, training, security assessments and reinforcing business continuity plans and appropriate insurance cover.

Relevant case studies are highlighted, such as the 1999 London nail bombings in Brixton, Brick Lane, and the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the 2013 Westgate Mall attack, the 2016 Berlin Christmas market attack, and the 2017 London Bridge / Borough Market attack as well as the 2017 Oxford Street “false alarm” on Black Friday. The impact and significance of these events for the retail and hospitality sectors are also examined.

Ed Butler, Pool Re’s Chief Resilience Officer, said: “With restrictions in the UK further easing this week and the re-emergence of crowds, retail and hospitality locations are especially at risk given their visibility and public significance. Innovations to accommodate social distancing like external queuing, outdoor dining spaces and the pedestrianisation of roads have created new vulnerabilities. At the same time, many businesses have lost experienced staff and have redirected scarce resources away from counterterrorism and protective security investment. Critically, terrorism is currently very low on businesses’ agendas.

“Pool Re SOLUTIONS is dedicated to helping organisations and businesses reduce vulnerability, risk and susceptibility. Our priority is to improve the understanding of and resilience to terrorism. Our expert analysts have prepared this report using open-source analysis paired with our in-house data and a range of confidential interviews with leading experts and security directors in the retail and hospitality sector.”

This report has been created to support the retail and hospitality sector’s understanding of the threat of terrorism to their businesses, providing detailed, trustworthy information required to better assess vulnerabilities and effectively manage and mitigate the risk. It is particularly aimed at supporting businesses such as small shops, multi-branch retail businesses, hotels, restaurants and bars, and other leisure and entertainment venues.

It warned that the retail and hospitality sector has long been a target for terrorists, and the lack of security measures and the expectation that there will be significant crowing in retail and hospitality sector make the sector ripe for opportunist terrorists.

However as lessons have been learned from the past in urban areas with security increasing the threat is now toward more remote centres.

The fear is that threats which had been postponed due to the pandemic would now be resurrected as terrorists look to  resume attacks.

These attacks are usually unsophisticated and involve, bladed weapons incendiary devices and potentially vehicles. However the report warned there was still a threat of “martyrdom attacks” and “spectaculars” given the crowded nature of retail and hospitality centres.

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