Christmas market organisers across the UK may have been urged to protect shoppers from terrorist truck attacks but it is important that they choose a hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) system that offers real protection, says KarabloK director Gareth Neale.
He fears many of the barriers and bollards being sold as hostile vehicle mitigation systems would leave Christmas market shoppers totally vulnerable.
“Some of the systems I’ve seen at events in the UK in the last 12 months won’t even stop a car, let alone a truck,” said Gareth Neale.
“Others boast that they can stop a 2.5 tonne vehicle travelling at 30mph but there are plenty of bigger trucks travelling much faster than that around our town and city centres.
“If you want to stop a truck with a temporary barrier you need something substantial – there’s no getting away from that.”
The call to take extra security measures came after the attack on the Berlin Christmas market in December 2016, which left 12 dead and 56 injured, prompting the UK Government to warn Christmas market organisers they need to protect against vehicle attacks.
Gareth Neale said: “KarabloK units are both crash-proof and blast-proof and designed to stop a 7.2 tonne truck travelling at 50mph. They have been independently tested and shown to do so.
“They are quick to install and take up again for reuse somewhere else. There are no footings required – they just sit on the surface – so there is no disruption to any underground services.
“And to allay any fears of turning our valuable public spaces into fortresses, KarabloKs can be painted, decorated or planted up to soften their appearance. You could even use holly, ivy, artificial snow and Christmas lights to make them blend in with the festive theme.
“All this makes them ideal for temporary events, such as Christmas markets, where they really will do their job: protecting people.”
Some local authorities and other organisations have chosen bollards – some which can be can be raised and lowered – rather than barriers to stop trucks. Any bollards capable of stopping a speeding truck need permanent and significant anchoring to the ground which makes them expensive to install.
But the biggest drawback of bollards is the limited protection they offer.
“Your HVM system may stop the vehicle getting in among Christmas market shoppers but that’s only half the job done,” explained Gareth Neale.
“What if the truck is packed with explosives or the people inside are armed with guns? How much protection will it offer then?
“This is a very real threat: homemade explosives have been used with devastating effect for decades by all sorts of people – from the Oklahoma bombers to the IRA and now Islamic State terrorists – and they are all too easy to make with materials bought online or from a local DIY store.
“A solid precast concrete barrier like KarabloK offers blast protection which bollards don’t. And again, KarabloKs have been independently tested against a variety of explosives and each time passed with flying colours.
“Each unit itself is four feet high and barriers can be securely fixed in multiple courses if more height is needed.”
The KarabloK system is designed to form straight barriers or run around bends and special units form corners, junctions and gateways. And it can be installed as a single barrier or as chicanes on roads to slow vehicles down.
“We will work with security advisors, such as the police, to provide full and quick design advice,” said Gareth.
“Each system is then made to order in the UK and could be deployed within two or three weeks of receiving the order. And because the units are so robust they are reusable time and again and so very cost-effective.
“If organisers want to give Christmas market shoppers genuine protection as well as peace of mind, they need to do it properly and make sure they use a barrier that works.”
For further information on hostile vehicle mitigation systems, call Gareth Neale on 07545 455 005.