Project Griffin: Protect yourself, your staff, your business and your community
Project Griffin is the national counter terrorism awareness initiative for business produced by NaCTSO to protect our cities and communities from the threat of terrorism.
The threat from terrorism is serious, but it is important to keep it in perspective. This threat comes principally from DAESH (also known as ISIL), Al Qaida, and groups and individuals who can be directed, encouraged or inspired by them. The level of threat is complex and ranges from crudely planned attacks to sophisticated networks pursuing ambitious and coordinated plots.
The aim of Project Griffin is to:
- Help understand the threat from terrorism to the UK
- Guide individuals on what to do if they find themselves involved in a terrorist incident or events that lead up to a planned attack
- Enable people to recognise and report suspicious activity
Project Griffin holds briefing events to increase public and staff awareness of how best to reduce and respond to the most likely types of terrorist activities. The events are presented by trained police advisors delivering a range of CT awareness modules.
What is Project Griffin?
The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 highlighted the evolving nature of the terrorist threat that Western countries would be facing for over a decade and are still combating today. Even before that threat materialised on the streets of London on 7 July 2005, security authorities expected the UK to feature high on the list of appealing targets for Al Qaeda and its affiliates. As a result, attempts were made to encourage and promote greater engagement between public and private sector around counter-terrorism issues, in the belief that national security was a collective responsibility that could be more effectively pursued by proactively involving a wide range of stakeholders.
In this vein Project Griffin represented an ambitious initiative aimed at fostering security awareness across the capital’s business community through effective and timely information-sharing with law enforcement. Established in April 2004 as a pilot joint venture between business, the City of London Police (CoLP) and the Metropolitan Police (MPS), it initially involved three major City-based financial institutions. Since its inception, Griffin has expanded significantly and is nowadays viewed as the most effective and successful example of public-private partnership on CT security issues.
Its stated mission is to ‘engage, encourage and enable members of the community to work in partnership with the police to deter, detect, and counter terrorist activity and crime,’ providing an official and direct channel through which the police can share valuable information and provide relevant updates concerning security and crime prevention. The system has been praised for raising awareness of security and terrorism issues among the business community as well as for facilitating the sharing of valuable intelligence before, during and after a crisis.
The Griffin offering has been expanded and continuously adapted to meet the changing threat picture, particularly in light of the emergence of Daesh (ISIL). In this context Griffin has continued to expand its reach to engage a wider range of commercial partners across the UK and currently benefits from the active involvement of police forces nationally. Griffin and associated CT awareness products are now the recommended engagement tool for delivering CT awareness advice and training to industry partners for all police forces in England and Wales and has also been adopted by Police Scotland. It is extensively used across both the MPS and BTP to support engagement across a number of industry sectors, particularly those with crowded places.
The impact and effectiveness of this initiative has been demonstrated on numerous occasions since its inception, including during the 7 July 2005 London bombings when Griffin trained security officers provided much needed support by carrying out external patrols of premises and by reassuring the communities most directly impacted by the terrorist attack. Similarly, private security guards actively assisted in the evacuation of the West End’s Tiger Tiger Night Club when an explosive device was found outside the club’s premises in June 2007.
As further testament of its success as a valuable and effective engagement and information-sharing mechanism, the Griffin methodology and approach has been exported to and adopted by several countries, including Singapore, Australia, Canada (where it was utilised during the 2010 Winter Olympics) and the US. In New York, Griffin was incorporated into the existing Project Shield, an umbrella program designed ‘to coordinate the efforts of both public and private security activities’ for the purpose of protecting the city from terrorist attacks.
Project Griffin continues to add enormous value in supporting the community through partnership between the public and private sectors. Its international transferability identifies its efficacy and success.
Recognising the imperative created by the changing threat picture from international and domestic terrorists and those inspired by them to commit acts of terror Project Griffin and associated programmes continue to adapt to deliver the critical requirement for the counter terrorism policing and the business communities to work effectively together to meet the common challenge of terrorism. In doing so it has supported the creation of an enduring, resilient and effective public-private partnership which increases assurance for businesses and citizens alike whilst simultaneously creating a more hostile operating environment for terrorists.