Post the Brussels Attack

How should organisations respond?

The recent attacks in Brussels, previous events in Paris and now a plane hijacking in Egypt have highlighted the ongoing threat from international terrorism and its universal nature. These events have naturally grabbed the headlines and understandably led to organisations and their employees becoming increasingly concerned about their security while at work and travelling at home and overseas.

So what should organisations do? This guidance is intended to help you address that question and decide on what actions you should take in response.


Firstly it’s important to understand that these events, while high impact, are still rare and less likely to affect people that the common everyday threats that we all face while at work or travelling. Keeping the news in perspective is therefore important.


That said the threat is real and it is highly likely that more attacks will take place in Europe as well as further afield targeting western civilians as well as security forces. IS has been building its “International Department“ and ability to conduct attacks overseas for at least two years and what we are seeing is the result of this work. What we cannot predict is where these attacks will take place.

The threat level in the UK remains at Severe meaning an attack is highly likely. IS associates are known to have visited potential targets not only in London but in other major cities including Birmingham. What we do know is that their potential targets appear to be crowded public spaces where they can maximise the number of casualties. These include airports, railway stations, sports stadiums, shopping complexes and leisure venues.

We also know that’s these incidents may involve a combination of weapons and methods, so called complex attacks. Explosive devices and the use of suicide bombers but perhaps active shooters too. They may also have more than one phase to the operation as seen in Paris and Brussels. The terrorists may attempt to second guess the general reaction to the initial event and plan a second attack aimed at targeting those who are trying to flee or seek cover.

Multiple incidents, involving more than one location are also likely perhaps two or three separate locations being attacked at the same time or in sequence.


So what should organisations do? We recommend that you consider the following actions:

  • Communicate with and reassure all staff that the organisation is taking appropriate action.
  • Make sure than personnel are aware of any appropriate public awareness campaigns, there are two in the UK. The stay safe campaign and the staff awareness initiative, helping personnel identify and react to suspicious or hostile activity. The US and some other countries have similar information initiatives in place.
  • Prepare and brief staff appropriately, remind them of the organisations on site response plans for evacuation and invacuation and for solo travellers or teams working away.
  • Consider training vulnerable and key personnel where appropriate. This may cover personal and travel security, situational awareness, hostile surveillance recognition and what to do in the event of an incident.
  • Review the organisations security and response plans for all its facilities and for personnel travelling or working off-site. Check that they up to date (contact numbers and procedures). That they allow you to locate and communicate with off-site personnel if there is an incident and that you have a missing person plan.
  • Consider the changing threat picture, do your plans cater for the more complex attack scenarios we are seeing today, if not review them in the light of these.
  • Test your response plans to ensure they are fit for purpose and that the key actors are familiar with them. If senior management are historically reluctant to spend time on contingency planning then now might be a good time to re-visit the issue with recent events still in the news.

And if you are unsure about any of these aspects seek expert advice, we are always here to help.

Reproduced from a client circular by David Curran MA FCIPD MSyl