21st June 2013
It’s sometimes tough doing a job where I can’t talk about what I’m working on to family and friends. It feels a bit like I’m living the double life of a secret agent.
So it was earlier in the week when we did our job, then hoped nothing went wrong as the G8 Summit in Enniskillen of the world’s most powerful politicians played out to its conclusion.
My company Zaun was part of the reported £60m security operation that involved 4,700 Police Service of Northern Ireland officers and 3,600 from other UK forces on the mainland.
The PSNI understandably wanted the securest G8 ever at a time of ‘severe terrorist threat’ and hoped that its reputation for dealing with public disorder plus unprecedented physical, cyber, technical and logistical protection would keep many potential protesters away.
Our solution was to erect our 3.6m high SecureGuard PAS68 security fencing along the 5.7km length of the public road on one side of the site, integrated with rising arm barriers and 10 PAS68 gates for secure access control.
And to install nearly a kilometre of our RDS on either end to take the security cordon to the banks of and even into Lough Erne through remoter areas around the edge of forest land, dirt tracks and grassy knolls with undulating ground.
Even in such severe environments and with what was after all just a temporary installation, RDS has been proven to protect against vehicle and mob attack. The police even blasted the temporary fence with water cannon on full power in a test, but the system remained secure.
A team of about 50, backed by logistics, manufacturing and health & safety experts, took 10 days to put in the entire system and 6 days to remove it once the summit was over.
The Home Office owns most of the system as part of the National Barrier Asset and first used it for four political conferences on the mainland in 2012.
And when I read what PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said when talking to BBC News, it makes me prouder still:
‘The (security) investment has proven itself to be more than worthwhile. We made planning assumptions based on previous G8s. I wouldn’t do anything differently if we started again. There were people that wanted to come here and violently protest. The fact that they didn’t has been due to the policing.’