On Friday 16 June 2017 around 750 people gathered at Manchester’s One Central Convention Complex for a Project Griffin briefing. Attendees came from a range of industry sectors, including retail, hospitality, entertainment, and travel, to learn how they can protect against terrorist attacks, and what to do in the event of a major incident unfolding.
These briefings are typically given to groups of between 30 and 50 people, with the previous largest in Manchester consisting of around 140 attendees. With this event being delivered to more than five times that number, it demonstrates the desire of local businesses to keep their employees, and the wider public, safe from harm.
The briefing consisted of a package devised by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and delivered by Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSA) from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU).
Project Griffin is a NaCTSO initiative to help protect our workers, businesses and communities from the threat of terrorism. Launched in 2004, Project Griffin builds on existing partnerships between counter terrorism police, emergency services and local companies, helping businesses improve their security and preparedness plans in order to better protect their staff and customers.
Companies have to guard against a variety of potential threats, ranging from crude attacks by lone attackers inspired by terrorist or extremist political ideologies, to sophisticated directed plots requiring significant planning and resources.
Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Wilson, the national police coordinator for Protect and Prepare, said:
Project Griffin has been a vitally important strand of our policing strategy for more than a decade, but recent atrocities in Manchester and London have brought into sharper focus the necessity for police and our partners in industry to work closely together.
I am delighted to see this partnership is flourishing in the North West, and I am sure this is typical of the close relationship police forces around the country share with their local businesses.
While there is no specific intelligence to say an attack is imminent, the threat from terrorism is Severe and that means an attack is highly likely. But it is important to keep a sense of perspective.
Our aim is to move public thinking from an irrational fear of terrorism to a rational concern, where the nature of the current threat is better understood, and staff members know what to do if they find themselves involved at the scene of a terrorist incident or if they should witness the preparations for a future attack.
This may include recognising and reporting suspicious behaviour, dealing with a suspect package, or how they react to a firearms or weapons attack, even though such events are thankfully rare.
We have recently renewed our crowded places guidance to ensure that both the public and industry have the most up-to-date information on how to mitigate the risk from terrorism, and that guidance can be found on the NaCTSO website.
Vaughan Allen, Chief Exec of CityCo, the city centre management company for Manchester and Salford, said:
Since the tragic night of the bomb, CityCo has been working with businesses to keep the city open and help ensure everyone working, living and visiting here feels safe.
It’s a sign of how seriously businesses take the need for their staff to be as well informed as possible that this Project Griffin event will be one of the largest ever counter terrorism awareness events in the UK.
CityCo will continue to work with our partners at NWCTU and Greater Manchester Police in the months to come, rolling out further training and ensuring businesses have up-to-date and accurate advice.