London’s changed a lot since 1605 when 36 barrels of gunpowder were found beneath the Palace of Westminster yet still the threat of crime and terror is still something that is on the forefront of many people’s minds – from the Clerkenwell Explosion of 1867, an anarchist bomb on the Metropolitan Railway at Aldersgate Street in 1897 to four car bomb explosions set by the IRA in 1973.  Most recently the Westminster Bridge, the London Bridge and Finsbury Park attacks in 2017 highlight Londoner’s cause for concern.

Today the perception is that UK cities have never been more dangerous and that terror is a growing issue; something which WSP wanted to address.

WSP hold monthly lunchtime interactive seminars called ‘Innovation Labs’ that feature thought-provoking talks and discussions, designed to generate fresh thinking and new ideas to help us and our clients become future ready. In our latest Future Ready Innovation Lab, 75% of our attendees thought that terror was increasing in the UK.  Even though deaths from terror attacks in Europe have declined for the past 40 years, terrorism still remains a threat that we must, as engineers, include in all our designs.   

Today, designing for the risk of terror attacks is a key part of our project design. A solution would be to start assessing all open spaces designed into new developments to see how the use of landscaping and street furniture can stop an attack on people. 

Apart from terrorist attacks, other threats which are much more common exist and as engineers, we need to include them in our design so everyone can feel safe and secure. These are the less visible, but much more common crimes that we need to think about in all our designs –to help us all feel safe and secure. Key standards such as the Met’s Secure By Design principles are a great start for this.  As is also designing security measures, such as bollards, in a way which makes them unobtrusive and an attractive part of the street furniture.

We’re also mindful of future threats as well as the threats of today.  For us, Future Ready designs means considering not just the incidents for today, but also designing out the issues which will be relevant in the future – such as future threats of new computer viruses, terrorist ways of operating and everyday crime.

This blog was written by Matthew Brittle, Head of Security.

More on this subject