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Picture of a KarabloK barrier protecting a stadium and decked in sports flags and banners to make it look less aggressive

Stadiums need flexible hostile vehicle mitigation systems

Stadiums around the world are rapidly adding hostile vehicle mitigation systems (HVM) to their security measures. But these need to be movable so they can be redeployed in different positions to cope with the needs of 21st century, says KarabloK director Gareth Neale.

“The problem is that many hostile vehicle mitigation systems are fixed in place and that doesn’t always suit the way more forward-looking stadiums operate today – particularly the bigger ones,” said Gareth Neale.

“Stadiums may have been built for specific events such as Football, American Football and Track and Field. But that’s just their primary function. Many take advantage of their commercial potential to host numerous other events, like concerts, festivals or the occasional mega-sporting event.

“These kinds of events often feature additional corporate hospitality and merchandise sellers outside the grounds. They also draw bigger crowds into the areas beyond the stadium perimeter and outside the zone protected by fixed hostile vehicle mitigation systems.

“But movable HVM systems, such as KarabloK, provide the flexibility needed to overcome this. They can be repositioned to wherever they are needed. Or they can simply be introduced as additional, temporary measures.”

Picture of a KarabloK barrier protecting a stadium and decked in sports flags and banners to make it look less aggressive

Gareth points outs that, while any event can be a target for terrorists, the less routine events, such as cup finals and sell-out concerts, are more obvious targets as they are usually larger and higher-profile.

“The volume of corporate hospitality at some major sporting events now is unbelievable. And it looks set to continue growing as it is such a big revenue steam and we seem to have an insatiable appetite for it,” he said.

“It has led to large tented villages springing up in car parks and open spaces outside stadiums. There are also longer queues of visitors beyond the protected zone because of increased security searches. These are emerging features of stadium pop concerts too. So it is vital that operators and event organisers protect these areas too.”


Make HVM at stadiums look less scary

He is also concerned that stadium operators – determined not to make venues look like fortresses – could compromise the level of safety they offer by choosing hostile vehicle mitigation systems that not only look less imposing but also offer less protection.

“I totally understand why those choosing HVM systems want them to look ‘nice and friendly’,” he said.

“Nobody in their right minds would want to put visitors off or scare them as they arrive for a big event. That in itself could easily lead to other security issues.

“But we must remember the primary function of any hostile vehicle mitigation system is to protect people from terrorist car and truck attacks. If it’s a piece of street furniture with a small tree planted in it and some seating round the edge, it might help. But it’s not designed to stop a determined terrorist.

“When choosing the right HVM system, you must start by choosing one that is fit for purpose. So first, choose one that will definitely stop vehicles; second, make sure it is quick and easy to install and remove again after the event; then third, work out how to make HVM look less scary. And, with KarabloK, that’s easily achievable.”

KarabloK barriers are formed from a series of precast concrete units. These are 1.2m high, 2.1m long and 1.4m wide (48ins x 83ins x 55ins). They are pinned together with a unique and patented system.

Together, they form a crash-proof and blast-proof barrier that’s been independently tested and shown to stop a 7.2 tonne truck at 50mph.

“Each one of these units weighs 3.5 tonnes (7,720lb). You need something that substantial to do the job properly but they are also designed to be visually softened,” said Gareth Neale.

“Each has a large cavity which is normally backfilled local material, such as sand or gravel, in fitted bags. But the tops of these cavities can be used for planting shrubs or trailing plants. In that sense it is just like street furniture in our town and city centres.

“They also come in a range of very high quality finishes. These can be painted with designs fitting to the event or covered in posters and billboards – think of them as an advertising opportunity.

“And the barrier is also designed to have attachments quickly and securely bolted to the top. This is often another layer of blocks or a security fence but could just as easily be posts for flags and banners, billboards or signs.”


Easy installation and removal

The easy installation and removal of the KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation system is one of its unique selling points.

“There are no footings required – they just sit on the surface – so there is no disruption to any underground services,” said Gareth Neale.

“This surprises some people who feel there needs to be some sort of ground-fixing for a barrier to work. But KarabloK’s unique pinning system enables it to stop big trucks travelling at speed.

“Of course, it depends on the specific site but – as a rule of thumb – one small team can install around 100m of KarabloK’s in a normal working day. The blocks are hoisted into position, then pinned together and the bags slipped in and filled with ballast. Removal is just the reverse operation and is even quicker.

“This flexibility makes KarabloK well suited to the needs of stadium operators and event organisers. They take security seriously. There is no room for compromise. But KarabloK could make their operations much easier.”

For further information on KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation systems for stadiums and events, call Gareth Neale on 07545 455 005.

Computer generated image of a Christmas market protected by KarabloK barrier which has been festively planted and decorated to soften its visual impact

Make sure hostile vehicle mitigation really protects Christmas market shoppers

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.

Computer generated image of a Christmas market protected by KarabloK barrier which has been festively planted and decorated to soften its visual impact

“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.”

“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.

A close-up of a computer generated image of the entrance to Paddington Station with a KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation barrier - planted with flowers - protecting it

Hostile vehicle mitigation without turning our streets into a fortress

Hostile vehicle mitigation systems don’t have to turn our public spaces into ugly, oppressive, intimidating fortresses, as this one shows … if you can see it.

Computer generated image of the entrance to Paddington Station with a KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation barrier - planted with flowers - protecting it

It’s easy to miss it at first glance but this computer-generated image shows an entrance to Paddington Station with a KarabloK HVM system protecting it.

Planted with flowers and shrubs it actually brings welcome cheer to an otherwise gloomy and strictly functional corner of one of London’s busiest places.


Proven against crashes, blasts and canon fire

Of course, something that is going to stop terrorists using cars and trucks to mow down innocent people in the street is going to be pretty significant.

And, when it comes to its hostile vehicle mitigation role, this precast concrete barrier system – designed by British engineers – has been tried, tested and proven to stop a 7.5 tonne truck travelling at 50mph, as this video shows.

It has also been tested against a range of explosives as well as canon fire and is proven to meet sections of NATO’s exacting STANAG 2280 standard for ballistic, blast and impact barriers.


A softer look for hostile vehicle mitigation

Yet the visual impact of this otherwise imposing precast concrete barrier has simply been transformed to make it look like a bright and cheerful piece of street furniture – the sorts of municipal flower beds seen in towns and cities across the land.

“Living and thriving in the free world is what we’re trying to achieve here but making town and city centres look like war zones does not meet our goals.”

“We’re fighting to preserve our way of life so any hostile vehicle mitigation system that makes ordinary people feel anxious or apprehensive, intimidated or vulnerable, is failing – it’s letting the bad guys win.”

“We need to feel confident and relaxed when we attend public events in parks and stadiums. We should feel at ease when travelling on our transport networks.”

“The KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation system sets out to protect people in key public places without adding to the tension. It allows us to safely get on with our business as usual.”

“Unlike some systems that look like municipal benches and flower beds and call themselves HVM systems, KarabloK has been tested and shown to be big enough and strong enough to stop big vehicles dead in their tracks. Yet, despite this very serious role, it can easily brighten a place up rather than turn it into a fortress.”


Units can be planted up to soften their impact

The blocks have hollow centres which are fitted with purpose made bags normally filled with ballast. The top few inches of the ballast, however, can be removed so the units can be planted up to soften their impact, using the sorts of flowers and shrubs local authorities routinely grow in tubs and hanging baskets.

Trailing plants can almost completely hide the units but the precast concrete surface also comes in a range of different finishes so when they are visible they blend in with other local buildings.

As the KarabloK system is quick to install – needing no ground fixing or foundations – and just as quick to remove again, it is also ideal for temporary locations, such as festival sites. Here, units could also be painted and decorated to completely tune in with their environment.

“It doesn’t take a lot of effort or imagination to turn a KarabloK barrier, with a very serious function, into something positive and aesthetically pleasing,” added Gareth Neale.

“The bottom line is that these barriers save lives; they shouldn’t spoil them.”

The blast-proof KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation system being tested against an explosive device

Is your hostile vehicle mitigation system blast protective too?

Hostile vehicle mitigation systems (HVMs) are becoming an increasingly common site on our streets as a host of public and private sector organisations ramp up anti-terrorist measures. But are they making the right choices?

Their focus has largely been on stopping trucks and cars that have recently been the favoured choice of weapon among terrorists, used to indiscriminately mow down innocent people.

There are a host of different HVMs to choose from – ranging from simple metal bollards to concrete or metal barriers – and some are more effective at stopping vehicles than others.

But, unlike the KarabloK hostile vehicle mitigation barrier, few of them are also blast-proof. And that could be leaving the door open to terrorists who have long-used truck and car bombs.

Why blast protective hostile vehicle mitigation barriers are needed

The Bishopsgate bombing in the City of London in 1993 saw the IRA detonate a powerful truck bomb. In 1995, a truck loaded with a home-made fertiliser bomb killed 168 people in Oklahoma City.

Truck bombs are also widely used in places where both temporary and permanent barriers have long been deployed to keep vehicles at bay. This two-phase attack seems the terrible, natural progression for terrorists: they first use the truck as a weapon and then blow it up, extending their deadly reach well beyond the barrier.

In May 2017 at least 150 people were killed in one such attack – a truck-bomb explosion in the highly fortified diplomatic quarter of Kabul, Afghanistan – after breaking through barriers and killing at least 12 police officers who tried to stop it.

It is clear that even if we succeed in stopping a vehicle attack on our streets, the threat is not yet removed.

A blast protective and bullet protective HVM system

So if you’re going to invest in hostile vehicle mitigation system, it makes sense to also consider the secondary threat, the explosive device the vehicle may contain.

Here, the precast concrete KarabloK unit comes into its own as they are not only designed for hostile vehicle mitigation but also as blast protective barriers.

They have been successfully independently tested against a variety of explosive devices and found to be effective against:
● 36kg of High Explosive
● Swingfire warhead
● 155 NATO warhead
● Milan warhead
● 30mm HE Rounds

These results prove KarabloK units to be compliant with elements of STANAG 2280 – NATO’s own standard for ballistic, blast and impact barriers.

As well as providing protection against explosive devices, the solid barriers also shield people against bullets.
The blast protective, crash protective and anti-ballistic properties of KarabloK are further enhanced when the barrier is built more than one unit high.

Other considerations in choosing a hostile vehicle mitigation system

With the genuine need to avoid turning our public spaces into fortresses, KarabloK has been designed with aesthetics in mind. The top of the central cavity – normally filled with ballast – can be planted up with shrubs or herbaceous plants to soften their visual impact. A range of factory finishes are available for the units themselves.

With no ground-fixing or foundations needed, they can not only be installed relatively cheaply but also quickly. And they are just as quickly taken down for storage and reuse, making them suitable for both temporary and permanent applications.

There is a lot to consider when choosing an HVM system. But to offer full protection to people in your location, it makes sense to choose a barrier that is blast protective too, like KarabloK.


See the blast tests on the KarabloK units

How KarabloK’s unique coupling system creates a blast-proof, crash-proof barrier