Security personnel; Access and egress control; CCTV monitoring
In 1974 construction of the Thames Barrier began - it became operational in 1982 and was first used in 1983. It is one of the largest moveable flood barriers in the world and protects 125 square km of central London from tidal surges. The Environment Agency also runs and maintains the capital’s other flood defences such as, the Barking Barrier and King George V Docks. As well as a tidal defence, the Barrier is one of London’s most striking and famous landmarks. As such, security at the Barrier is critical as a breach could result in extensive financial cost, human suffering and potentially loss of life. This is why, on seeking a security partner, they wanted to work with a company that would take ownership of the security and work with the other on-site personnel as one team. The Barrier is a location that attracts high profile visitors and film crews, so they needed a security partner that could manage these high-status situations. There are two access gates at the Thames Barrier and numerous cameras that must be monitored by a supervisor 24 hours a day.
How did we help
We implemented a structure of four teams. Every team member is highly trained to understand the unique challenges of the site and is fully briefed on the critical nature of the site and the role they play in protecting it. There are clearly defined protocols to keep to for access control, and no access to the site is given without prior arrangement; anyone who arrives unannounced will not be granted access to the site. The officers run a strict pass system and, within their teams, each work to ensure that the correct levels of manning are achieved at all times at all stations.
Part of their responsibilities is to patrol the site which includes the car parks, woodland, and public viewing areas. In particular, the public viewing area is one of importance as, at times of high tide, it can be submerged in water. It is the responsibility of our officers to ensure that they prevent the public from accessing these areas during these times. The officers also patrol the tunnel under the Thames as part of a maintenance regime, looking for any hazards or health and safety issues. The supervisors from each team, who monitor the on-site cameras, are fully trained in the required action in the case of an alarm activation. Their role is to implement the correct action or escalate it to the next level depending on the type of alarm.
Every officer on the Environment Agency contract has undergone CTC clearance and we also have a bank of five relief officers to cover absence. However, the teams generally pull together to self-cover any leave, giving the client peace of mind and consistency. Our teams also work closely with the Police and other security services.
The Environment Agency knows that the security of their key flood defences is in safe hands; no one gains access to site unauthorised and they have a team they can count on seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The Thames Barrier is an extremely positive place to work and we have very high staff retention within the security team. The management team on the contract have created a motivating competitive culture amongst the four teams which drives them to consistently exceed expectations. And when it comes to the crunch, they all pull together as one big, happy team.
All of this means the client can concentrate on what they do best – protecting our capital from tidal surges.