VAWs for Thought

A best practice guide for those operating goods vehicles, whether lorries or vans, has been released by the Department of Transport, as it seeks to combat the threat of vehicles used as weapons (VAWs) – a crime that has created new risk management scenarios that simply have to be considered.

The ‘Countering Vehicles as a Weapon’ guide is naturally full of advice relating to security of sites at which vehicles are stored, maintained, or parked up. It promotes a ‘deter, detect, deny’ approach, in seeking to keep vehicles, drivers, other employees and members of the public safe.

At the heart of all of this is risk management, in a different context from the norm. What is required is a shift in thinking that embraces risk in a wider sense. The publishing of this report signifies that we must now consider the risk posed by those seeking to steal or commandeer vehicles in order to deliberately cause harm.

Whilst health and safety law may not yet encompass any punishment for those whose vehicles are deployed in this way, as threats evolve and increase, anything could happen. Where the line that comprises the duty of care over employee and public safety will be drawn over the next few years is impossible to say.

Clearly, given the high-profile and devastating global VAW incidents that have taken place, it is paramount for goods vehicle operators to have robust security protection in place. This needs to be operated to a definitive plan that mitigates the risk to the vehicle and the employee or contractor driving it. New systems may well be required, to log drivers and other visitors in and out of sites, with enhanced access controls put into place and more effective surveillance deployed.

This risk management also needs to extend to scenarios beyond the yard or delivery bay – when the driver is away from the depot on deliveries or is parked up during comfort breaks. All drivers need to be as aware of anti-VAW strategies as the fleet managers back at base.

This is a lot to consider, but it must form part of your planning. For this reason, Gauntlet is launching VAW risk assessments alongside its standard, in-depth risk assessment service, to help commercial transport operators put the right strategies into place. If you recognise that the world has changed and you need to respond to that, call us for help on 0113 244 8686.