Civil unrest

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Understanding the Risk

Civil unrest and riots with the potential for damage to property, theft and arson attacks can have severe financial implications to businesses and organisations. The emergency services, in particular the police and the Fire and Rescue Service, inevitably find themselves less able to respond to individual situations as their resources become stretched to deal with and contain the overall situation. This leaves businesses, plus their staff and visitors vulnerable and it is important that the overall risk management procedures and protections adopted are reviewed and where necessary reinforced to minimise where possible the threat and consequences.

During periods of heightened risk, businesses and organisations should take steps to review the following:


  • Site perimeter fencing and walls are in good order and gates locked
  • Vehicle security posts should be in working order and used
  • Security lighting fully operational 
  • CCTV functioning, unblocked and recording 
  • Intruder Alarms (including Personal Attack facilities) fully functioning and set during unoccupancy
  • Perimeter doors are in good condition and locking devices fully functional and utilised
  • Windows – all opening ground floor and other accessible windows are adequately secured with key operated locks or permanently secured shut
  • Fixed window bars and grilles are adequately secured in place
  • Any internal or external shutters or removable grilles are fully operational and utilised. Consider maintaining these in place even during operational hours as incidents can quickly develop.
  • Where the location is considered to be vulnerable, consideration should be given to temporarily boarding up vulnerable windows or doors taking into account the need for emergency exits in the event of fire 
  • Manned security guarding presence should be considered where not already utilised or hours of coverage and personnel increased if already in place 


  • Sprinkler systems should be checked to ensure they are fully operational and valve-sets secured in the open position
  • Other automatic fire suppression systems should be checked and fully operational
  • Automatic and Manual Fire Alarms fully operational 
  • Fire extinguishers and hose-reels should be checked to ensure they are ready for use and have been maintained. Staff must be instructed and trained in their correct use 


High valued items of contents or stock are particularly vulnerable and where possible the following should be considered:

  • Arrange for storage at a less vulnerable location 
  • Place items in an internal secure room or where practical a security safe
  • Remove window stock 
  • Flammable and combustible liquids should be kept to a minimum and stored in a secure area
  • Cash should be removed from the premises overnight if safe to do so

External storage of stock should be avoided.

Vehicles for sale on display on garage forecourts should be kept to a minimum and high valued vehicles only stored internally or moved to less exposed storage location overnight.

Vehicles should not be parked in yards or close proximity to buildings in high risk areas. Where possible any vehicles under your control should not be parked in areas where there is unrest.


Where there are external portable features that could be used to break windows etc, such as planters and signage, these should be removed and stored internally. 

To reduce the risk of an arson attack, external combustibles such as waste in wheelie bins should be managed and kept to a minimum and where practical stored inside during periods of potential unrest.

The Emergency Plan and Business Continuity Plan should be reviewed and updated where necessary. Emergency procedures should be communicated to all staff.

As part of the Business Continuity arrangements, it should be ensured that all computer data is backed up and removed from the premises daily.


AIG Insight documents:
Business Continuity Planning & Testing
Security - various
Unoccupied Premises
Risk Assessment and Self Inspection
Automatic Fire Detection
Automatic Sprinklers
Sprinkler Impairments
Portable Fire Extinguishers
Emergency Organisation
Arson Control

For further information please contact your AIG Risk Engineer

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