Crowded places such as stadiums, shopping centres, pedestrian malls, and major events will continue to be attractive targets for terrorists. The current National Terrorism Threat Level in Australia is PROBABLE (Figure 1), as outlined on www.nationalsecurity.gov.au. This reflects the advice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) that individuals and groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia. The elevated terrorist threat is likely to persist for the foreseeable future and it is not confined to any one city or metropolitan area.
Attacks on crowded places overseas, including London Bridge and Borough Market in June 2017, Manchester Arena in May 2017, the Berlin Christmas market in December 2016, and the Bastille Day parade in Nice in July 2016, demonstrate how basic weapons— including vehicles, knives, and firearms—can be used by terrorists to devastating effect. Australia is not immune. Terrorists have plotted similar attacks here, including on crowded places, and we expect more will occur. In July 2017, police and intelligence officials disrupted a plot to conduct a terrorist attack using an improvised explosive device against the aviation sector, and a plot to develop an improvised chemical dispersion device for use in a terrorist attack on Australian soil.
Australian governments work with the private sector to protect crowded places. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are well-equipped to detect and disrupt plots, and they have a strong history of stopping terrorist attacks.
But the reality is it will not always be possible to prevent all terrorist attacks from occurring, so we need to strengthen our national arrangements in order to help owners and operators better protect crowded places from terrorism.
Owners and operators of crowded places have the primary responsibility for protecting their sites, including a duty of care to take Figure 1 steps to protect people that work, use, or visit their site from a range of foreseeable threats, including terrorism.
The objective of this Strategy is to protect the lives of people working in, using, and visiting crowded places by making these places more resilient (Figure 2).
The approach taken to protect crowded places should be nationally consistent, proportionate and, to every extent possible, preserve the public’s use and enjoyment of these places.
It is not possible to protect everything, so owners and operators must prioritise the highest risk areas of a crowded place.
This Strategy also ensures there is a clear and consistent understanding of what constitutes a crowded place, the roles and responsibilities of all those involved in protecting these places, and the threat environment in which they operate.
The success of this Strategy rests on strong and sustainable partnerships across Australia between governments and the private sector to better protect crowded places. To this end, the Strategy sets out a new national framework, known as the ‘Crowded Places Partnership.’ This Partnership provides a consistent approach in each state and territory for trusted engagement between all
levels of government, state and territory police, and owners and operators across the country Membership of the Crowded Places Partnership gives owners and operators access to better threat and protective security information. This comes from a variety of sources, including Commonwealth law enforcement and intelligence agencies, state and territory police, other owners and operators, and international partners. In each state and territory, police have in place, or will be introducing, ‘Crowded Places Forums’, through which they can share information and advice with owners and operators.
By accessing this information, owners and operators will be in a better position to protect their crowded places against terrorism. Protective security measures can be used to deter, detect, delay, respond to, and recover from a terrorist attack. Implementing them can be a complex process which, if done incorrectly, can be costly and ineffective. This Strategy includes a suite of supplementary materials that will assist owners and operators to understand and implement protective security measures. These materials also contain modules on specific weapons and tactics used by terrorists.
These supplementary materials can be found at www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/CrowdedPlaces and include:
• Crowded Places Self-Assessment Tool;
• Crowded Places Security Audit;
• Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Guidelines;
• Chemical Weapon Guidelines;
• Active Armed Offender Guidelines; and
• Improvised Explosive Device Guidelines.
The Guidelines are designed to increase understanding of the threat posed by particular weapons and tactics (e.g. vehicles, improvised explosive devices) to crowded places. The Guidelines also provide guidance on the issues and options that owners and operators may consider during risk mitigation and contingency planning activities.
Even the most robust and thorough protective security plan may not stop a terrorist attack on a crowded place from occurring or succeeding. But what well-considered and tested protective security does is reduce both the likelihood of a terrorist attack occurring and the consequences of such an attack.
The reputation of owners and operators of crowded places is prone to serious and permanent damage if a less than robust, responsible, and professional priority is given to protecting people against attack. Reputational damage can have a significant impact on a business’ finances. Being security minded and better prepared could not only deter an attack, it can reassure customers and staff that those responsible for crowded places are taking security seriously.
The tools and information provided with this Strategy are intended to give readers a general understanding. In many cases, owners and operators will be required to seek further specific advice from private security professionals. The Strategy contains guidance on how to select a private security consultant.
Hardening and improving the resilience of crowded places relies on all stakeholders taking action to apply this Strategy. Owners and operators, and governments at all levels, will need to use the guidance in this Strategy to make decisions and implement protective security measures in accordance with the existing conditions and arrangements in each jurisdiction.
This Strategy will be reviewed on a regular basis by the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC), the national body responsible for coordinating an effective counter-terrorism capability across Australia and maintaining arrangements for intelligence and information sharing between all jurisdictions and relevant agencies.
What is a Crowded Place?
Crowded places are locations which are easily accessible by large numbers of people on a predictable basis. Crowded places include, but are not limited to, sports stadia, transport infrastructure, shopping centres, pubs, clubs, hotels, places of worship, tourist attractions, movie theatres, and civic spaces. Crowded places do not have to be buildings and can include open spaces such as
parks and pedestrian malls.
A crowded place will not necessarily be crowded at all times: crowd densities may vary between day and night, by season, and may be temporary, as in the case of sporting events, festivals, or one-off events.
Crowded Places and Terrorism
Australia’s National Terrorism Threat Level remains PROBABLE. This reflects the advice of the ASIO that individuals and groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a
terrorist attack in Australia. This includes threats to members of the public and locations where large crowds gather. The threat is not confined to any one city.
This terrorist threat level is likely to persist for the foreseeable future. It is important for owners and operators of crowded places to understand the current National Terrorism Threat Level
and accompanying information on the national security context. This can be found at www.nationalsecurity.gov.au.