Security threats to critical infrastructure

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Critical national infrastructure (CNI) is, by its very nature, fundamental to the running of any country. Without the contribution from sectors such as energy, society would be severely impacted. It should therefore be no surprise that CNI is a perfect target for those who may wish to cause major disruption or harm.

Noah Price, head of the G4S Academy, provides an overview of the security threats faced by critical national infrastructure, what makes good security and the work G4S is doing to secure Hinkley Point C.

Threats against CNI may be external or come from the inside and are constantly evolving. The principal threats include theft or damage to property, assets and materials, unauthorised entry (including terrorist, activist and urban exploration) and cyber-attacks.

The infrastructure which supports and underpins these sectors therefore needs to be protected against threat and harm, using modern methods and the latest technology, to ensure that critical operations are not disrupted should an attack occur. Such arrangements need a holistic approach to protect the entire infrastructure, including both physical and cyber security, and ensuring that culture, awareness and behaviour among staff, contractors and others, is ultimately driven from the top.

Risk management

Threats and risks faced by CNI need to be continually assessed and updated, and this is difficult because of ever-changing circumstances. In the nuclear industry, the UK is currently in a state of transition with half of our 15 nuclear power reactors (which supply approximately twenty percent of Britain’s electricity), set to be retired in the next four years. G4S provides security services to nuclear plants that are under construction or being decommissioned, with each site at very different stages of operation, displaying different risks and requiring different levels of security.

Nuclear construction sites tend to be demanding and dynamic with risks changing as the build proceeds. The number of people on site at any one time and the speed of the build, makes it more challenging to plan for. In contrast, decommissioning sites have a higher risk at the beginning of the process when reactors are shut down and fuel is taken away, meaning that security is generally easier to plan for. The tempo of operations is also much slower for decommissioning sites compared to the hive of activity of a construction site. As a result of the high number of people, machinery and activities, far more safety, security and medical incidents are faced on a construction site on a daily basis than would be seen at a decommissioning site.

Revisions of the UK threat levels relating to potential terrorist attacks also have an impact, with an expectation that security services have the ability to react to these changes instantly. This means having the resources to upscale security to the appropriate level, depending on the individual CNI environment. Having access to a pool of Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP), plus a broad range of supporting services (such as canine, which can screen for explosives and firearms etc.), as well as being able to rapidly deploy surveillance technology (such as CCTV Towers), allows organisations such as G4S to effectively react to such demands and build an integrated security solution suitable to mitigate the threat.

Managing ingress and egress

The faster pace of operations is observed at nuclear construction sites by the large number of people on site at any one time. At Hinkley Point C (HPC), security staff can search and screen up to 150,000 people…

To read the full article, see our next edition of Security Buyer, which will be available to download in our library after publication here.

Media contact

Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922

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