Expert Legal Advisers to the Road Transport
Industry for over 30 Years

Vehicles as Weapons! Think Security as Well as Safety.

Government Guidance on this issue is worth reading and recommended by Senior Traffic Commissioner, Mr. Richard Turfitt.  The key message is to think security as well as safety.

The Government published guidance (click here for more information) for operators of goods vehicles (from a small van to a large lorry) is designed to achieve the following:

  1. help prevent acts of terrorism;
  2. help protect your organisation’s reputation;
  3. demonstrate your commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility;
  4. help to improve security culture within your business; and
  5. help to reduce crime.

The Guidance covers security measures that operators should consider implementing for:

  1. building and embedding a positive security culture and behaviours;
  2. personnel security;
  3. operating centres and maintenance facilities;
  4. transport managers and drivers;
  5. vehicles; and
  6. general security issues.

When a vehicle is used intentionally as a weapon in order to injure or kill someone it is known as a Vehicle as a Weapon (“VAW”) attack and as the Guidance notes, it will immediately be obvious that this type of crime is widely accessible given the number of goods vehicles on the roads every day.

The Guidance itself is well worth reading, but those short of time will wish to know what the government actually recommends, especially in terms of guidance that operators can provide to their drivers which might avoid a VAW catastrophe.  Helpfully, the Guidance includes a list of security tips for goods vehicle drivers:

  • Avoid talking about loads or routes with unauthorised persons (including over radios and telephones).  Do not post information about your route or location on social media, be aware of your ‘digital footprint’, and take care to avoid unwitting disclosure of route/location through mobile phone security settings and geolocation of pictures.  Discuss high risk routes with your transport office;
  • Lock and secure your vehicle whenever you leave the cab and keep the keys secure, including when unloading and loading, always follow company security policies and instructions;
  • Carry out visual walk around checks when leaving and returning to the vehicle to make sure it has not been tampered with.  Report any irregularity in loading, locking, sealing or documentation to your company;
  • When conducting walk around checks, think Security as well as Safety;
  • Never carry goods for anyone, other than the authorised load;
  • If you are forced to change your route, inform your Transport Office immediately;
  • If someone is acting suspiciously or something ‘doesn’t feel right’ either at the depot or on the road, report it to ACT, call 0800 789 321 and contact your company;
  • Do not allow unauthorised passengers into the cab;
  • Keep your phone fully charged at all times.  Store important phone numbers;
  • Be mindful of your personal security.  Keep ID documentation and wallets secure and out of sight; and
  • Beware of attempts to deceive, such as by bogus Police and DVSA officers – stay vigilant always.

Reading the items on this list one could be forgiven for dismissing it as little more than common sense, but when one reviews an incident and works backwards it may well be that if one or more of the action points recommended above had been taken, then the theft of a vehicle could have been prevented.  As well as being a checklist of sorts, the recommendations reflect a mindset; to be aware, and not to act in a way that can increase the risks that you will become a target.

The Guidance also includes advice for what to do if a vehicle is taken, stating that:

If your vehicle is stolen call 999 and alert the call handler to the following information:

  1. circumstances of the vehicle being stolen;
  2. description of the vehicle including company name, registration details, aerial roof markings and any tracking software fitted in the vehicle; and
  3. if you suspect that the vehicle has been stolen for a terrorist attack then make sure this is made clear to the call handler.

Drivers should also immediately alert the company who will have procedures in place for stolen vehicles.

If you have a driver or a vehicle involved in a theft or a VAW incident, call us now on 01279 818280

 

© Richard Pelly, September 2019