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This week, Charlie discusses the importance of having updated response plans in case of an emergency and looks at why organisations should keep in contact with staff during an incident.

This week’s bulletin was inspired by several recent events that have converged, reminding us of a threat that seemed to have waned for a while. I noticed a report from Morgan Stanley stating that ‘After virtually halting during the COVID-19 pandemic, business trips are rebounding, even surpassing pre-pandemic levels’. Simultaneously, there is an escalation of conflict in Israel, and just two days ago, a shooting occurred during Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Sweden, resulting in the tragic deaths of two individuals.

Between 2015 and 2020, Europe experienced a series of mass casualty terrorist attacks, including the Paris attack, the bombings at Brussels airport, the Nice vehicle attack, and the Manchester bombing. These events highlighted that one didn’t need to be in an exotic war zone to be affected, or killed in a terrorist attack. However, in the past few years, due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, the decline of ISIS, and the dedicated efforts of security services, the threat seemed to have receded.

The recent conflict in Israel and Gaza has incited anger among many, raising concerns about potential inspiration for individuals aspiring to carry out revenge attacks on Israel’s supporters. The recent gun attack in Belgium could be an ominous sign of potential future attacks in Europe, inspired by the events in Israel.

In light of the possibility of attacks in Europe, I think it is advisable to review and update our travel security plans and responses. While you may have company travel insurance, it’s important for the company to actively support and implement their duty of care for business travellers. I recommend implementing the following measures if you haven’t already:

  1. Establish a system to monitor travellers’ travel bookings and conduct risk assessments before their trips.
  2. Continuously monitor areas where your staff will be travelling in the future, are currently travelling, or have staff based. Situations can change rapidly, as demonstrated by recent events like the conflict in Sudan.
  3. Maintain awareness of your staff’s whereabouts, allowing you to locate them in the event of an incident in a country they are visiting. Staff should check in with their family and employees every 24 hours.
  4. Staff should be briefed on the risks before travel and the action to take to ensure their safety. This could also include travel health and information security advice.
  5. Ensure that staff are well-informed about the procedures to follow if involved in an incident abroad. In the event of an attack, and they are unharmed, then promptly inform the organisation and families of their safety.
  6. Provide a 24/7 response mechanism, enabling travellers to seek assistance even outside of regular office hours. Even if you have a response travel insurance company, they may still need to contact the organisation for certain decisions.
  7. Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for managing incidents overseas and ensure that the plan is regularly tested through exercises.

I recommend that all of you review your plans and verify whether you have fulfilled your duty of care to ensure you are prepared for a potential increase in terrorist attacks.

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