NEWS Security

As COVID-19 forces a UK lockdown, what threats must we consider? How does it affect public spaces?

Blog three in our security series and today we look at public realm.

Never before have we had such restrictions on enjoying public spaces, recreational grounds, beauty spots and even beaches. That said, there will always be those who exploit the situation for crime and personal gain. We need to be aware.


As the market to drugs becomes restricted via border controls tightening and access to supply and demand shrinks, the lack of income from regular clients will have a dramatic impact on gangs trading in the supply of illegal substances. Recent press reports suggest that gang violence has reduced since social distancing measures have been implemented, however the supply and demand will continue using different tactics from using ‘cuckooing’ vulnerable users’ households, to remote dropping of supply. Once social distancing measures relax, violence will no doubt increase. With the expected demand on hospitals due to COVID–19, treating gang violence may become an additional strain on services.

With school closures, there is also a risk that county lines drug runners will still be more accessible to be introduced to or continue working for gangs.

Figures for the year ending September 2019 showed a 7% rise in sharp instrument offence and was recorded by the police as 44,771 offences, an increase of 46% comparable to when recording began in 2011.

Police cuts have resulted in 20,000 officers fewer ‘boots on ground’ since 2010. With Police planning to expect up to 25% off during this crisis, we must expect that Police response will be to critical scenarios as priority. This may provide opportunity to the offender knowing that the lack of a capable guardian (or response) is going to allow them success in planned or opportunistic crime.

As many are now working from home, available public realm is for some the only outlet for daily exercise. However, those that are looking for easy targets may take advantage of the lack of Police and Private Security coverage, also other realm users who would normally be there providing natural deterrence and natural surveillance.

The likelihood is if you are going out for exercise, you will be more isolated and exposed than previously.

Our recommendations:

  • Avoid areas where there are more than 3 people in close assembly and suspicious behaviour is prevalent.
  • If your instinct tells you there is something wrong…., there usually is, turn around and avoid!
  • Keep an eye on your teenage children and any changing habits or routines. Are they going out of the house more? Are they acting in a different, confrontational or defensive manner?
  • The change in format for shopping and the enforcement of social distancing in general may make the less tolerant of our society frustrated, angry and potentially violent. Do not get involved in any opposition to personal opinion or put yourself in harm’s way. If you need hospital treatment, the likelihood is you may catch something more life threatening in A&E.
  • As we all try to exercise daily, do not make yourself a target. If you are exercising outside, keep alert, look confident, don’t listen to music, be aware of your surroundings, run or walk on the pavement side where traffic is opposing so vehicles cannot approach you from behind, avoid discussions with any strangers, avoid eye contact and ensure you have an emergency means of contact with a loved one. Change your running routes and start times and make them unpredictable to forecast. NEVER post your running route maps to social media. Not only does this inform an adversary of a predictable route to target you, it lets them know when your house may be empty or your family members exposed to threat whilst you are not there.

Police advice on staying safe in public areas:

Vigilance and situational awareness is the key. If you have any concerns, you should contact the authorities.

John Green is Head of Security Consultancy for Hilson Moran

This site uses cookies to ensure the best user experience. Read More

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.