December 3, 2007 / 4:45 PM / 12 years ago

Report urges counter-terrorism review by firms

LONDON (Reuters) - Companies should review everything from evacuation plans to staff vetting and corporate communications if they want to reduce their vulnerability to homegrown terrorism, a leading think-tank said on Monday.

In a report published in conjunction with Lloyd’s insurance market, the International Institute for Strategic Studies outlined a series of steps to counter the threat from homegrown militants inspired by al Qaeda.

Among its recommendations:

* Rehearse building evacuation, but also designate a “safe room”, preferably windowless, in which staff can assemble if it is too dangerous to go outside

* Review building security, including the potential vulnerability of underground car parks

* Put in place a business continuity plan including an alternative site from which to operate

* Check your supply chain and reliance on other companies that could suffer disruption from an attack

* Consider putting in place a back-up electronic network in case of cyber-attack

* Invest in electronic mail scanning, or at least basic staff training to identify suspicious packages

* Strengthen staff vetting, including criminal record checks

* Check someone knows how to turn off the ventilation in your building, in case of a biological or chemical attack

“Although most business leaders are increasingly worried about it, they have also told us that they currently understand very little about what homegrown terrorism risk means for their business,” Lloyd’s Chairman Lord Peter Levene said.

The report said strategies to counter Islamist militants included investing in deprived areas of Britain with large Muslim populations, engaging in local community projects and adopting employment policies to promote diversity.

It said Muslim graduates found it much harder to get jobs than non-Muslims with the same qualifications.

Companies should also take care not to cause offence through the language they use in formal documents or statements, the report said, noting phrases like “war on terror” may “resonate badly with Islamic communities”.

Reporting by Mark Trevelyan

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