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Developing a Civil Unrest Action Plan

Posted by The Brain on Mar 23, 2021 4:16:35 PM

Data from the Global Peace Index shows that civil unrest doubled over the course of the 2010s. Think only high-profile venues need to be concerned? All organisations need to prepare. Not sure how to develop your civil unrest action plan, though? 

MKT-539 - Security Newsletter Graphic - 24 March 2021-01


Breaking down civil unrest action plan activities by lifecycle stage

It all starts with the lifecycle of the civil unrest incident. Civil unrest incidents follow the same emergency management lifecycle as other major emergencies. If you’ve forgotten, those stages include mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.

Why do those stages matter? Well, we counsel breaking down the activities in your civil unrest action plan by their lifecycle stage.

In the case of mitigation and preparation, then, the activities your civil unrest action plan should focus on are those that reduce the impact of the incident before it happens. An aside: if you think a standalone civil unrest action plan is overkill based on your organisation’s risk factors, tack on annexes or playbooks that deal with how to handle civil unrest incidents to your existing crisis, contingency, safety, and/or security plans.

How to gauge what those activities are? Self-assessment tools come in handy. Typically put out by law enforcement and public safety agencies, those tools will help you better understand where your hazard vulnerabilities lie and dedicate resources (including operational security management software) to the mitigation and preparedness efforts needed to reduce or eliminate those vulnerabilities. Those resources then get documented in your civil unrest action plan, which serves as the overarching response for all processes related to incidents of civil unrest.

These preparatory stages should also include provisions for regular trainings of the civil unrest action plan – if possible, with controlling law enforcement and public safety agencies. Those trainings help to pinpoint whether you need to bolster the security procedures in your civil unrest action plan.

Civil unrest action plan response and recovery activities

What will those trainings focus on? It depends, of course, on what gets included in the civil unrest action plan, but likeliest areas of focus are command post operations and communications. Which brings us to the heart of the matter: response and recovery activities.

Response activities vary from case to case. Though grouped under the same banner, incidents of civil unrest are themselves variable. Risk, also, is contingent. Typical response activities to be included in your civil unrest action plan, though, are:

  • Enhanced crowd monitoring and traffic control measures
  • All-employee reputational risk refreshers
  • All-employee guidance on discretion to ensure safe commuting to/from the workplace
  • Activation of third-party security services
  • And instruction of security personnel to transition to recovery when emotions calm

The latter point is key. Recovery is one of the more difficult phases in the emergency management lifecycle. And it’s not unlikely for action plans to give it scant attention. In this regard, your civil unrest action plan must be different.

The plan must stipulate how the business will work to resume normal operations. Component elements of this pivot to recovery are assessing and repairing damage as well as improving your security posture going forward.

To accomplish the latter, your civil unrest action plan should include provisions for a debrief of security personnel, so as to collect first-hand evidence of what happened. Those details will be necessary for the subsequent after-action report, which will provide concrete measures to improve your security posture going forward.

Sounds daunting? Well, it shouldn’t. Yes, incidents of civil unrest are on the rise, and you need to be prepared. But having and exercising a civil unrest action plan comprise half the battle.

The other half? The resources you allocate to implement action plan provisions. One of those resources will no doubt be operational security management software. Not sure where to turn?

Download our Buyer’s Guide to Operational Security Management Software:

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Topics: Security Management, Security Newsletter

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