Travel warning

The following is relevant to all travellers, whether for a short or long trip.

Although the level of risk is perhaps more acute in some of the obvious danger zones, the attacks in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Istanbul, and elsewhere have shown us nowhere is immune from attack.

The following is an edited version of a worldwide travel warning sent out by the US State Department. Although it is provided primarily for the information of US citizens and companies, it is clear that the advice applies to all, and to any ‘western companies’.

As terrorist attacks, political upheaval, and violence often take place without any warning, you are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase your security awareness when traveling.  To better prepare for possible emergencies, you are encouraged to read any advice and guidance provided, prior to embarking on your trip.

Terrorist groups including Islamic State, al-Qaida, their associates, and those inspired by such organisations, are intent on causing attacks.  Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons.  Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack to more effectively target crowds, including the use of knives, guns, and vehicles as weapons.

Extremists increasingly aim to assault “soft” targets, such as:

  • High-profile public events; sporting events, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.
  • Hotels, clubs, and restaurants.
  • Places of worship. Experience has shown that there is an increased risk after Friday prayers.
  • Schools.
  • Parks.
  • Shopping malls and markets.
  • Tourism infrastructure.
  • Public transportation systems.
  • Airports.
 In addition to concerns stemming from terrorism, travellers should be alert to the possibility of political unrest, violence, demonstrations, and criminal activities when travelling.

A link to the full text of the warning can be found here.

How we can assist

Your people are your most valuable resource, and it is important that they are looked after when travelling.

In the UK, the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act clearly lays down the duties of employers to their employees, in relation to their health, safety and welfare. Interpretation of this has developed over time, with more onus now being placed on employers.

Put simply, this states that employers have a duty of care to their employees. This requires them to take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of personnel. Legally, employers must abide by relevant health and safety and employment law, as well as the common law duty of care. It is also common sense.

Such duty is clearly particularly relevant to staff deployed outside of the home country, whether this be on a semi-permanent basis, or simply for brief visits.

The main purpose of any assessment is to look at potential security issues as opposed to advising on basic travel advice, which is often adequately covered elsewhere. Without stating the obvious, it is evident that any risk assessment, as well as travel or security guidance must be relevant to the town, country or region of deployment. A one size fits all strategy can be both ineffective, to a degree pointless, and also potentially dangerous.

We would first discuss your needs, and dependent upon where you, or your people travel to, put together a number of recommendations to address any issues, most importantly ensuring that your staff are safe, secure and comfortable wherever they may be travelling to.

We are then able to provide an assessment in relation to specific locations, following which, informed decisions can be made as to individual requirements. It is evident that some visits carry a greater risk than others, therefore, the location will depend upon the level of briefing required.

We can also review insurance policies in place, ensuring that cover is not only adequate, but relevant to the location of travel.

Information security is also a potential concern. It is readily accepted that there are certain places where there is a significant chance of security being compromised, whether this be from government sources, or others with a separate agenda.

In order to develop realistic assessments, we obtain information from a number of sources, including, but not limited to, advice of relevant governments, international security and risk organisations, as well as various media sources. Government advice is generally fine for those going on holiday, but is rarely sufficient for business travel.