The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Mitigating and Managing Protest Action on Your Sites

Mitigating and Managing Protest Action on Your Sites
18 November 2021

Jason Pope from Expeditious Services looks at how property and facilities managers can maintain order during protest action.

Jason Pope has worked for Expeditious Services since 2015, as Group Operations Director, and has been Service Excellence Director since 2018. His background encompasses a six-year employment in the British Army, leading to beginning work in the security industry in 2008. Throughout his career, Jason has held roles such as security contracts manager and national account manager.  At Expeditious Services, Jason is responsible for the success of UK operational delivery and building solid relationships with clients for high achieving results.



Picture: a photograph of Jason Pope


Action at COP26 


The UN climate change ‘Conference of Parties’ COP26 ended in Glasgow on 12 November. As many people remain unhappy with the lack of assertive action taken by world leaders, more civil unrest in the form of environmental protests is anticipated to put pressure on global decision-makers.

COP26 saw protests of around 100,000 people strong and (fortunately) very few serious incidents were reported by Police. Many business owners and security managers across the country are now looking to how they can effectively protect their property and assets in case further activism takes place across the country, at a time of heightened emotions and climate change fear.

At Expeditious Services, our team have great experience in both mitigating and managing the impacts of various kinds of protests, attacks, and activism. Recently, we’ve provided round-the-clock Close Protection cover to a high-value, high-profile transport site that was attracting protesters.

We’ve also supported an FM client in London when food markets were at threat of a targeted attack and door supervisors were needed to physically control access and egress, securing the sites being threatened. A utilities client has needed support monitoring a public figure with Close Protection whilst they attended a controversial political surgery, where environmental protesters were expected. And at the height of COVID, our officers helped to secure storage units where vaccines were being held and needed protecting from anti-vaccine activists.

Responding to a protest varies depending on several risk factors, such as if it is (un)planned, the size, the targets, the demands, the type of protest and if the protesters are “equipped” with intent and purpose to cause damage and destruction (e.g. with smoke bombs, paint bombs or weapons). However, there are several steps you can take to protect your business, property, people, and assets from the impacts of a protest in your area:


1. Liaise With the Police


The Police should be first in line to deal with any kind of protesting action, as they are specifically trained for handling such incidents, specifically the management of large numbers of people. It may be appropriate for your business to meet with the local police force to discuss their protocols for protests and how they could best work with you to protect your business. Remember, committing acts of trespassing, vandalism, damaging public property, or breach of peace are criminal acts for police to deal with, not your security team.

It is worth noting, at the time of writing, The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill is currently before Parliament and so the law surrounding protesting may change.


2. Conduct Your Own R&D


Security protection during a protest would come into play secondarily. A security provision would operate more in the background – acting as a visible deterrent, protecting assets, people, and property from the impacts of the activism – instead of dealing with the actual protest first-hand. It’s critical therefore, to understand the implications a protest would directly have on your business. Conducting a threat analysis and risk assessment will help to better understand these impacts and guide you in the best form of action to take for your specific needs. If you need support in this, you could work with a Security Consultant.


3. Make Informed Decisions


At times of protest or other significant business disruptions, it might be tempting to just up-man with extra security officers. From your R&D, you should be able to determine what your critical risk areas are and where support is most needed. Considerations to make include:


What type of security officer do you need and for which duties?


For many, Door Supervisors (DS) would be the most appropriate choice. An officer with a DS license would have the necessary training and authority to physically handle and detain people, if needed. Depending on the type of protest and nature of the people and assets within the premises, Close Protection (CP) could be most effective for a dynamic threat.


Would you need to deploy mobile patrols?


Regular internal or external mobile patrols could help spot the first signs of potential threat, as well as acting as a strong visible deterrent. If external, you may wish to consider how officers would keep safe if the protest became dangerous (e.g. patrol vehicle), and how they might be able to access your premises for safety if needed, without compromising the integrity of the building.


Would you need to increase CCTV or technical security?


Taking advantage of technology during incidents such as protests is an impactful way to conduct surveillance and intelligence, without the cost or risk of security officers on the ground.


Would you need to engage any other resources?


Other security resources, such as canine security could act as an impactful visible deterrent in controlling protesters, whereas plan clothed officers could help to assess risk and provide live communications from ground level.

When it comes to mitigating and managing incidents, such as protests and activism, prevention is better than cure, and it always pays to properly prepare. More manpower might not always be the best option; conducting thorough assessments and creating a tactical strategy will give you the best results. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Picture: a photograph of a crowd holding signs and placards, in monochrome

Article written by Jason Pope | Published 18 November 2021


Related Articles

Bidvest Noonan Security Staff Strike At UCL Over Pay

Outsourced security staff have been striking at University College London this week, in a protest over pay. Over 150 people attended the strike on Monday 14 November,...

 Read Full Article
Grosvenor Services Wins Security Contract for TfL’s Silvertown Tunnel Project

Charter Security, a subsidiary of Grosvenor Services Group, has secured a three-year contract with Riverlinx CJV to provide security for the Silvertown Tunnel...

 Read Full Article
FM Firm Supports World Suicide Prevention Day

Facilities services provider ABM, alongside other industry players, is raising awareness about suicide prevention at a London conference. Taking place on 8 September...

 Read Full Article
Security Firms Must Recruit 62,000 New Officers to Meet Demand

The UK’s private security industry must recruit, train and license more than 62,000 new security officers over the next 12 months to keep up with the growing demand...

 Read Full Article
Security Sector to March at London Pride 2022

On 2 July, the security industry will come together for the first time to celebrate pride and LGBTQIA+ identities within the sector. Organised by Satia Rai, Director...

 Read Full Article
SecuriGroup Supports Knight Frank in Preparing for the Protect Duty

SecuriGroup is working with Knight Frank to ensure security teams are fully aware of the challenges in preparing for the Protect Duty law. Led by SecuriGroup’s...

 Read Full Article
Climate Change and Security Officer Wellbeing

Rises in the cost of living, extreme weather changes and geopolitical upheaval are all factors that will have both long and short term effects on the wellbeing of...

 Read Full Article
Fuel Protests – Does Climate Activism Work?

2022 has seen several protests at refineries and fuel terminals, causing disruption in fuel supplies. Does action of this scale help or hinder progress on stopping...

 Read Full Article
What Impact Will Climate Change Have on the Security Industry? – Part Two

How can the security industry as a whole help to lower carbon emissions?  In part two of this series on climate change and the security industry, Julie Hulme,...

 Read Full Article
Sue Gray’s Report Shows ‘Poor Treatment’ Towards Cleaning and Security Staff

Senior civil servant Sue Gray’s long-awaited final report describes “multiple examples” of poor treatment of both security and cleaning staff. In the...

 Read Full Article