The PRoTECT (Public Resilience using Technology to Counter Terrorism) project aims to strengthen local authorities’ capabilities in public spaces protection by putting in place an overarching concept where tools, technology, training and field demonstrations will lead to situational awareness and improve direct responses to secure public places before, during and after a terrorist threat.
As part of the PRoTECT project, The European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) and the city of Brasov (RO) organised a seminar on “Identifying vulnerabilities and mitigating the risk of terrorist threats in public spaces: Cooperation among all stakeholders”, on 17 July in Brasov. 85 participants from 13 European countries (including local and regional authorities, law enforcement agencies, experts, security practitioners and other stakeholders) came together to exchange and discuss common solutions for the protection of public spaces among relevant stakeholders across Europe.
Exploring crime prevention approaches in counter-terrorism protective security measures
During the seminar the founder of DSP-Groep, an Amsterdam-based independent institute for policy research and social innovation, Paul van Soomeren, who is also partner of Cutting Crime Impact (CCI) project, made an intervention on the protection of soft targets and urban crowded places. Paul said there are now concerns that some security measures have an exclusionary effect that can generate feelings of insecurity, contrary to what is sought. He stressed the need to use other crime prevention approaches that involve collaborative working and broad engagement with all parts of the community in counter-terrorism protective security measures.
In this regard, Paul presented the H2020 Cutting Crime Impact (CCI) project and mentioned that the research undertaken in CCI, can also be used to enhance counter-terrorism protective security measures in public spaces, particularly the research around the prevention and mitigation of petty crime.
Efus agrees with this statement and has written about it in the PRoTECT work package report, submitted to the European Commission, and enriched with CCI research reports. The report presented, amongst others, the aggregate findings and the results of the vulnerability assessment of public spaces implemented by the city partners of the project along with recommendations for cities in regard to the improvements of security measures to be implemented for public and crowded places against a terrorist attack.
Building ties and working closely with members of the community
The concept of “community policing” is traditionally used by local law enforcement agencies concerned primarily with preventing and solving crimes that have a visible impact on everyday security of the local community and affect the quality of citizens’ everyday life, such as burglary, theft, and robbery. Community policing can be also used by local law enforcement agencies to tackle the current terrorist threat.
For instance, this approach is used to minimise the spread of radical ideologies and as a form of gathering intelligence. Interaction between the police and the public can provide an important source of information for the intelligence. ‘The Review of State of the Art: Community Policing’ (Davis, Wootton, Guillen, Diniz and van Soomeren, 2019) developed in the framework of the CCI project mentions that following a terrorist attack, LEA’s can actively promote community engagement. In Greater Manchester, the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack was used to build community cohesion. The “We Stand Together” charity was established to celebrate differences, fight hatred and intolerance and help build a safer and stronger country.
Urban Planning, Design and Management for the protection of soft targets
Urban Planning, Design and Management is a multi-disciplinary approach to prevent crime against the person and property, and reduce feelings of insecurity, by incorporating evidence-based urban design, planning and management measures within proposals for urban development (Soomeren, Davis and Wootton, 2019). Such measures generally seek to embed protective physical features and encourage positive social behaviors through the design and management of a location.
Terrorist tactics have changed, the targets are less about symbols of the West and more about maximum damage. This has led to crude but deadly attacks in public spaces, such as the vehicle attacks in Berlin, Barcelona, Nice and on Westminster Bridge.
This creates a huge challenge not only for security professionals but also for designers, urbanists and planners. Public spaces need to be retrofitted with security measures, while new spaces also need to be reconsidered in a way that they are safe but also pleasant environments rather than be continuously reminded of the peril we may be in.
Tackling terrorism while without fuelling feeling of insecurity
As explained by Paul van Soomeren in his article “Design Against Terrorism: soft targets and safe public places” (2019), the question of whether the public and/or perpetrators should see the security measures (or not!) is an important consideration. Showing all security measures for the public might result in more or in less feelings of insecurity. This also depends on timing. For instance, roadblocks, set in place in squares and other crowded spaces to prevent an attack, will probably be perceived as a necessary burden and the same goes for security measures right after a terrorist attack or attempt. If the security measures stay there month after month it will probably work as a constant reminder that terrorism is a very real possibility and it will thus increase fear and feelings of insecurity. In that way it would help terrorist to reach their goals: spreading fear and terror.
CCI partner, Efus has recommend to local authorities for the effective protection of public spaces a more human centred approach that involves more collaborative working and broad engagement with all parts of the community in the landscape of tackling terrorism and also raising awareness. Currently risk management processes are deployed and security professionals in charge of counter-terrorism use of other crime prevention techniques but are now becoming more aware of the human centred approach.
 Davis, C., Wootton, A. Guillen, F., Diniz, M. and van Soomeren, P. (2019). DELIVERABLE 2.4 Review of State of the Art: Community Policing. CUTTING CRIME IMPACT PROJECT. Salford : USAL.
 Van Soomeren, P., van Dijk, R. and Stienstra, H. (2019). Design Against Terrorism: soft targets and safe public places Urban Planning, Design and Management against ram raiders. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Available at: https://www.svob.nl/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Ram-Raiding-EN-20190614.pdf
 Van Soomeren, P., Davis, C. and Wootton, A. (2019). DELIVERABLE 2.5 Review of state of the art: CP-UDP. CUTTING CRIME IMPACT PROJECT. Salford : DSP.