Mother of Manchester terror attack victim calls for protective security improvements at 2019 Step Change Summit

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As the mother of a victim of terror, I don’t have the power to prevent other parents or families having to bury their loved ones like I did. But you do.

These were the powerful words spoken by Figen Murray – the mother of Manchester Arena attack victim Martyn Hett – as she opened the third annual Step Change Summit at the Farnborough Exhibition Centre.

Speaking to a 300-strong audience of business leaders and security experts, Mrs Murray explained the devastating personal consequences of the attack at the Arianna Grande concert – providing a heart-wrenching reminder why the Step Change Programme is so important.

The Step Change Programme aims to support delivery of the Protect and Prepare objectives of the CONTEST strategy by creating a ‘whole of society’ approach between police, government and the private sector. It was born out of the tragic events of 2017, when repeated terror attacks made it clear that policing needed the assistance of all facets of society in order to better protect the UK’s people and infrastructure against the unprecedented threat.

A year on from 2018’s ‘Call to Action’ for businesses and industry to take a more active role in the protective security of the UK, this year’s Summit took stock of the progress made so far, but more importantly looked to the future of Counter Terrorism Policing’s relationship with the private sector.

As the National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare, Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, commented as he facilitated the event:

2017 was about fighting fires, 2018 was about consolidating what we had learned during that difficult time and this year is about looking to the future and taking the next step.

That next step was taken by the Security Minister, Ben Wallace MP, when announcing the launch of a ground-breaking interactive online platform – a £10million project funded by Pool Re, the terrorism reinsurer, and led by Counter Terrorism Policing in partnership with the Joint Security and Resilience Centre (JSaRC).

Designed to strengthen collaboration between business, industry and the public sector, the platform will give businesses access to expert advice, training and timely and accurate information in the event of an attack. The Senior National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, said: “At this Step Change Summit we need to look at how the public and private sector shape our future relationship, not to see industry as simply a commercial partner but instead how they can work alongside us and co-fund protective security for the future.

The relationship that we have with Pool Re shows that when we integrate together, we can take some great steps forward in keeping the public safer.

This new platform will allow businesses to access credible information 24/7, connect users to experts, provide accredited online training and send direct messages in the event of an attack – strengthening our frontline against the unprecedented threat.

The project is ambitious, but representatives from Counter Terrorism Policing and Pool Re told the Summit that over the next two years it will develop from a concept to a working reality.

In the meantime, the Step Change Programme is already delivering substantial changes to the way we protect our crowded places and citizens.

And what is already clear is the dedication shown by private sector organisations to take a more active role in the protective security of the UK, and that greater collaboration between the public and private sectors is already making our country a safer place.

But we cannot be complacent. Bringing this year’s Summit to a close, the co-Chair of the Programme Board, Bill Moore CBE set out the next steps he believes the programme should take to become truly embedded in the private sectors’ consciousness for the long-term.

We have made a fantastic start and we’re much better off than we were a year ago, but we have two big challenges going forward. We need to make the Step Change Programme self-sustaining. And the second is a challenge for businesses. We need to make protective security front and centre in the minds of our board members. We need to get engagement from CEOs, COOs and other executive directors, because change is driven from the top. In every board meeting health and safety of staff is a top priority and we must get protective security into that space. Once we can do that, the Step Change Programme can cease to exist because by then it will be business as usual and we will all be safer as a result.

Visit Step Change for more information on how your business can get involved in protecting your staff, infrastructure and the wider UK against the threat of terrorism, or email stepchange@met.police.uk.

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