Preparedness in an evolving threat landscape

Monday, September 18, 2023

As the security sector and wider public await the publication of new counter-terrorism draft legislation named Protect Duty (currently known as Martyn’s Law), Figen Murray will be partaking in a panel discussion at this year’s International Security Expo later this month to discuss how the security community can work together to deliver this crucial piece of legislation.

As identified in the Manchester Arena Inquiry (the recommendations from which inform Martyn’s Law) and echoed throughout Figen Murray’s campaigns, a lack of preparedness, and an inadequate response to suspicious behaviour, enabling the terrorist to carry out his attack with tragic consequences, were amongst the key shortcomings and missed opportunities in the provision of security at the arena on 22 May 2017.

The threat of terrorism has evolved with an increase in the occurrence of attacks on crowded spaces. With more than 650,000 spaces in the UK being defined as ‘crowded’ (1), it is imperative for approaches to security and risk management planning to evolve too. Whilst it will never be possible to eradicate terrorism altogether, with better preparedness comes more powerful deterrence and greater protection.

Preparedness is unquestionably a key tool in the arsenal of prevention activity, yet it is a fundamental missing piece in the jigsaw of security provision. Furthermore, according to a report carried out by Blerter and Event Risk Management Solutions (2), most event organisers rely on annual or one-off risk management planning, with only 18% having a risk management plan that is less than 12 months old, with 21% who don’t have a plan at all. 

Recommendations from the Manchester Arena Inquiry call for higher levels of preparedness, including calls for greater alertness to the threat level of a terrorist attack, robust procedures to counter the threat of a terrorist attack, and prompt action in response to reports or observations of suspicious behaviour that are out of sync with the expected pattern of life at such events. Furthermore, continuous assessment of evolving risk, ongoing training in how to intervene in a potential risk situation and continuous quality assurance all have a role in taking preparedness to a higher level to mitigate risk.

Behavioural detection awareness skills play a significant role in achieving preparedness across the security sector. A workforce that is trained in detecting unusual behaviour, such as individuals working later or starting earlier than normal, a person loitering outside a venue over the course of a few weeks, someone carrying a bulging rucksack or someone who looks nervous, jumpy, overly concentrated or unusually focused in a public space, acts as a powerful force against the threat of terrorism. Behavioural detection awareness training enables security personnel, venue stewards, information desk staff and cleaners to recognise early indicators that something could be awry and suspicious through careful observation of the behaviour of people as they go about their day-to-day activities.

Essentially, all personnel who encounter people, who are located close to vehicles outside a venue, or who sit behind a CCTV camera, should undergo behavioural detection awareness training (as a minimum) to, firstly, equip them with the observation skills to identify potential hostile reconnaissance, preparatory assessments or dry runs and, secondly, to sharpen their instincts to share suspicions with their superiors. For example, a cleaner may come across a dubious package hidden somewhere in a venue, potentially revealing a test set by a potential terrorist designed to assess the robustness of the venue’s security ecosystem. Without the proper training to know instinctively to act and to have clarity on the channels of communication to escalate suspicions, the test will fail and potentially be the green light for a fatal attack.

Many aspects of suspicious behaviour are common sense to recognise, but until they are brought together in a professional discipline across the entire workforce at a venue and the wider events industry, these behaviours will continue to go unnoticed or not be acted upon. It is, therefore, critical to embed a more proactive and pre-emptive approach to security that positions security as everybody’s business to increase the likelihood of criminal activity being intercepted.

Behavioural detection awareness training provides a low-cost, high-impact solution to making venues more secure. The minimal level of training can be implemented for all personnel in roles related to an arena, with 20 or 30 specific security personnel being more highly trained as Behaviour Detection Officers (BDOs). Meanwhile, ongoing quality assurance as the threat landscape evolves means that all personnel undergo rehearsals and observation during live events to embed skills crucial to preparedness and better risk management planning in an expanded holistic security system. A more positive security culture will result in greater resilience against future threats whilst addressing key weaknesses in the security sector.

Redline Assured Security provides four behaviour detection courses:

  • Behaviour Detection Awareness (BDA) eLearning – a 30-minute online course designed to make staff look, listen and think differently in their environment and crowded situations.
  • Behaviour Detection Awareness (BDA) – 4-hour classroom learning at NSSA Doncaster or a location of choice, where delegates can expect to develop their observation and awareness skills to achieve better preparedness.
  • Behaviour Detection Officer (BDO) – 3-day classroom learning at a location of choice, where teams are deployed into a live, assessed environment to practise behavioural analysis and detection.
  • Behaviour Detection Manager (BDM) – 4-day classroom learning at the location of choice, where delegates will be taught how to manage Behaviour Detection Officers (BDOs) and operations to achieve the earliest possible detection, whilst identifying and escalating potential threats by following their organisation’s procedures.


(1) Survivors Against Terror. Martyn’s Law Final Report

(2) Event Preparedness and Resilience Survey Report 2020


Notes to editors:

Redline Assured Security will be exhibiting at Stand E40 at the International Security Expo 2023

Paul Mason is Managing Director for Redline Assured Security, part of Air Partner Group, a Wheels Up company. With over 25 years of aviation experience, Paul was at the helm of Redline from its inception in 2006 to its acquisition by Air Partner in 2019, guiding Redline from a concept through to the internationally acclaimed security training, consultancy, and quality assurance company that it is today. The division offers an unmatched range of products and services spanning all aspects of safety and security, training, consultancy, quality assurance and innovative software products to cater for the needs of tomorrow’s threats and risks as well as big data handling, live data analytics and real-time threat and risk management.

About Air Partner Group, a Wheels Up Company     

Founded in 1961, Air Partner Group is a world-leading international aviation services group providing aircraft charter, aviation safety and security solutions, and managed services to industry, commerce, governments, and private individuals, as well as civil and military organisations.    

The Air Partner Group has two divisions: Air Partner Charter and Air Partner Services (previously Safety & Security). Air Partner Charter comprises of group charter, private jets, cargo, and specialist services. Group Charter charters large airliners to move groups of any size. Private Jets offers the Company's unique pre-paid JetCard scheme and on-demand charter for up to 19 people. Cargo charters aircraft of every size to fly almost any cargo anywhere, at any time.   

Air Partner Services comprises Baines Simmons, Redline Assured Security Ltd, Kenyon International Emergency Services, and Managed Services. Baines Simmons offers aviation safety management and fatigue risk management. Redline Assured Security delivers government-standard security training, consultancy, and solutions to regulated, high-value and high-threat environments. Kenyon International Emergency Services is a world leader in emergency planning and incident response.  

Air Partner works with Climate and Development experts Climate Impact Partners, to allow clients to offset carbon emissions in support of projects that not only cut carbon but also alleviate poverty and improve lives.  

Air Partner Limited is a Wheels Up company, the leading provider of on-demand private aviation in the U.S. and one of the largest private aviation companies in the world. Wheels Up is headquartered in New York City and operates in 25 locations across three continents and employs 2,700 professionals globally. Air Partner Group is ISO 9001:2015 compliant for commercial airline and private jet solutions worldwide. More information is available on the company's website (