Thursday 17 January 2013 was memorable but not wholly for pleasant reasons. From a negative perspective, the World Bank cut its growth forecast for the global economy while yet another UK High Street institution – this time DVD rental specialist Blockbuster – was hurtling towards administration.
That sad news was prefaced by horrifying breakfast time drama engulfing London’s Wandsworth Road as a helicopter crashed into a tall building in the midst of fog-laden skies. Two deaths would be confirmed by the emergency services. A tragic start to the New Year in central London.
Thursday 17 January 2013, though, also witnessed the City of London Police’s 100th Griffin Awareness Day – undoubtedly a magnificent milestone for a groundbreaking counter-terrorism awareness initiative, the influence of which has spread far and wide since its inception in 2004.
Project Griffin: the background
Project Griffin was devised by the City of London Police and brought forward as a joint venture with the Metropolitan Police Service. The remit was simple yet vital: to educate and advise security managers, security officers and the myriad employees of public and private sector organisations based across the capital on counter-terrorism, crime prevention and security issues.
In essence, Project Griffin provides an official channel through which the police service can share and update crucial information relating to security and crime prevention. There’s an ongoing desire to raise awareness of current terrorist and crime issues, gather intelligence and share information, build and maintain effective working relationships and seek Best Practice solutions to defeat would-be terrorists.
As a by-product of all this, a key goal is to maintain trust and confidence in the police and other authorities while at the same time empowering members of the community to be bold in reporting what they believe is suspicious activity. Laudable goals one and all, I’m sure you’ll agree.
In the wake of rightly being dubbed “an unqualified success” in London, Project Griffin earned recognition as representing national Best Practice and was rolled-out by a host of police forces (Merseyside and North Yorkshire among them) to benefit cities and communities the length and breadth of the UK.
Griffin’s influence even spread overseas, with plaudits emanating from as far afield as the United States and Australia.
The Awareness Days are one of four main strands comprising Griffin’s operational framework – the others being online refresher modules, regular Bridge Calls and emergency deployments of registered personnel.
Awareness Days are staged locally by participating police forces to introduce ‘Concept Project Griffin’, establish relationships and facilitate networking forums. They focus on how people can recognise, respond to and report suspicious activity and behaviour.
Importantly, they also assist and prompt all those taking part to think about their own procedures when dealing with certain types of incidents and emergencies in a given locality.
Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications programme
Let’s not forget that Griffin provided a base point for the concept around which the hugely successful Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications programme was built to serve the London 2012 operations. From a law enforcement perspective, the latter stands as a shining legacy of the Olympics.
With all of this in mind it was only right that, on the evening of this milestone day for Project Griffin, an awards event was orchestrated by the City of London Police to honour those who’ve actively furthered the scheme’s credentials.
Deserving of so much credit are Don Randall MBE – current chairman of the Project Griffin Executive Committee and co-founder of the whole initiative – as well as Jim Busby (executive head of NaCTSO) and senior police officers Ian Dyson, Richard Morris and Paul Crowther. As the new chairman of the London Project Griffin Board, Graham Bassett will also be a tremendous force for good.
Project Griffin is all about the police service, the business community and private sector security companies working in genuine partnership. A partnership underpinned by co-operation, of course, but also that commodity which is most priceless – absolute trust.
It’s the very embodiment of convergence. The convergence of like-minded souls. Like-minded souls determined to protect us from harm.
Here’s to Griffin’s next milestone.