Emerging Consequences of Brexit for Corporate Safety and Security – London First Article

The below was published by Robert Hall from London First on July the 7th and sourced from http://resiliencestartshere.wix.com/blog and shared with this distribution list for information

The full consequences of UK exit from the EU will inevitably emerge with greater clarity as the process unfolds. However, it is possible to point to key safety and security issues for both Europe as a whole and London in particular. These aspects are adverse and it is recommended that London First members should review and assess the implications both for individual businesses and London as a whole.


The Continent faces two major groups with competing target agendas including European locations: the groups are Daesh and Al Qaeda. There is also a range of other groups. Europe is menaced by terrorist activity based in nearby failed or porous states, where terrorists occupy territory or have refuge. The proxy war between Sunni and Shia is adjacent to Europe and is exacerbated by the rise of Sunni extremism. Gulf States fear that the West is making a long-term bet on Iran at the cost of the Arab World. Saudi Arabia is pursuing its own initiatives, some of which have proved flawed. The Arab Spring ended the role of some draconian national security structures. New arrangements have yet to mature and capacity and capability is often very limited. Within Europe, recent events in Belgium and France emphasised the weaknesses of Western European security co-operation and raised questions as to the competence of some national security arrangements.

Europe confronts the danger of terrorist innovation and the transfer of battlefield tactics to Western Cities. Innovation could encompass cyber terrorism, enhanced IEDs and CBR deployment. Overall, pressure on terrorist territory in Syria and Iraq will increase the risk of attacks in the West and other lawless zones will be exploited to facilitate terrorism aimed at Europe including the UK.


The UK has been at the SEVERE threat level (HIGHLY LIKELY) since August 2014. The Director General of MI5 has described the threat as three dimensional – home – abroad and on line. The span and breadth of threats is unprecedented. It ranges from individuals or small groups inspired or provoked to cause harm by whatever means they have to hand – through conventional guns and bombs – to determined marauding attackers conducting mass casualty assaults akin to urban warfare. This threat range creates great demand on both defence and response.

The UK, including London, has benefitted from European security co-operation developed over many years in which the UK has been a lead actor: EUROPOL and EUROJUST are institutional examples. The UK has been engaged in EU capacity building projects inside and outside the EU, which enhance overall European defence and security.

The most dangerous groups, which adopt mass casualty tactics, are within striking distance of London. Attacks producing economic impact are the emerging agenda of the most prominent groups. London is a pre-eminent economic target dating back to the 1990s. Transport including aviation is a regular terrorist target and London has an unusual variety of vulnerabilities. High volume passenger flows make preventive measures very difficult to achieve.

The UK counter-terrorist budget has been largely sustained, but greater austerity could cause cuts. In any event, present resources are considerably stretched. A major attack will prompt the need for immediate greater investment. London has predominantly unarmed policing, no third force and there is reluctance to overtly deploy armed forces in a protective role. There are also UK regional consequences which will impact on London. A united Ireland is back on the agenda. The Republic of Ireland is disadvantaged by a non-EU neighbour and Scottish security would be hampered by Brexit.

London has not had a large-scale terrorist attack since 2005 but an attack is highly likely. Current resources are under great pressure and a non-EU/UK will be more difficult to defend.


The immediate shock and longer term stress of Brexit place importance on being able to adapt to the new circumstances. This is the essence of being resilient. It will require above all leadership to manage change. A recent report on ‘Enterprise Resilience’ by London First and PwC highlights some major aspects.

A key danger is the rise of nationalism (in the UK, Europe and the US) and the societal divisions that may ensue. This could well feed xenophobia and extremism, and with it violence. In fact, the number of hate crimes in the week following Brexit increased by 400%. While historically the spike in tensions and hate crimes has returned to traditional levels relatively quickly after an event or incident according to the chair of the National Police Chiefs Council, Brexit is not an isolated happening but one with potentially a slow-burn fuse. The dangers may become even more apparent if expectations are not met and some people resort to their own interpretations forcibly. For London, with its diverse and cosmopolitan population, the dangers are perhaps less than in some others regions but London could be the focus of protest and unrest as the seat of government.

The wealth gap and pay differentials can be expected to fuel dissatisfaction. This is true for London as elsewhere. As a recent London Chamber of Commerce and Industry report showed, the lack of affordable housing for workers in emergency services (forcing them to live further out of London) will increasingly affect their ability to react to a major incident. The economic fall-out from Brexit – if recession ensues – may simply make matters worse for the population as a whole. Business has a key role to play here in addressing the disparities and boosting inward investment.

The notion of ‘nothing to lose’ by some of those voting for Brexit is a powerful and potentially dangerous one. The task of policing communities may be made more difficult, especially when cuts in police numbers have reduced the capacity to cope: further cuts were already in the pipeline and more can be expected to follow. Community cohesion therefore becomes all the more important and is something London First is trying to address through a community resilience (London Bridges) project.

There will be a growing need for business to do more to enhance its own security and resilience. Continuing and increasing pressures on the public purse will compel this shift. London First is leading the move for better public-private information sharing through an Information Sharing project.

Last but not least, the nature of the current crisis could take on another, unpredictable dimension if Donald Trump becomes the next US President. He seems to view a post-Brexit UK favourably but his appointment may exacerbate certain trends.


* Corporate leadership will wish to understand fully the threats and response.

* Appreciate corporate impact, especially the need for staff reassurance.

* Have corporate top-level plans to address threat variation.

* Have corporate safety and security structures, organisation and resourcing, commensurate with the threat.

* Display enlightened self-interest and corporate social responsibility.

All employees should:

* Have situational awareness.

* Contribute to measures which match the threats.

* Support business continuity and crisis management readiness.

* Engage in staff communication, awareness, briefing and internal training.

* Optimise the contribution of security providers and security partners.

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