Insight 5 April 2022

A collaborative approach to reducing crime in UK ports

Mitie are proud to be part of ‘PortSafe’– a joint campaign from Crimestoppers and NaCTSO (National Counter Terrorism Security Office). PortSafe encourages collaboration between law enforcement, first responders, partner agencies and industry to support and encourage individuals working in or around UK ports to recognise when criminal activity is taking place and provide a safe environment to report concerns easily and with complete anonymity.

As the provider of security services for Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s leading ports group, we are well placed to get behind this initiative, driving action that will benefit ports, their tenants, local communities, and insurance companies.

Ports are critical to the UK economy, harnessing the power of global trade and contributing £7.5bn to the economy. Ships remain responsible for moving 95 per cent of UK imports and exports of goods, and as the second largest in Europe, the UK Ports industry employs over 100,000 people and likely to increase with the introduction of Freeports by the UK Government who will also be providing up to £25m of seed capital funding.

Despite being one of the UK’s primary defences against a range of threats, UK ports are vulnerable to being targeted and exploited by organised crime groups who are determined to exploit any areas of weakness or vulnerability for financial gain, illegal migration, or terrorist activity. In many cases, this involves an element of insider threat. This could include:

  • Deliberate insider. Those who obtain employment with the deliberate intent of abusing access.
  • Volunteer / Self-initiated insider. Those who obtain employment without a deliberate intent to abuse access, but at some point, decide to do so.
  • Exploited / Recruited insider. Those employees who don’t set out with a deliberate intent to abuse access but at some point, are exposed to exploitation or recruitment by a third party.

PortSafe supports and encourages individuals working in or around UK ports to have the knowledge and power to recognise when something is out of the ordinary, and to spot the behaviours that indicate potentially criminal activity. Importantly, it ensures that concerns can be reported quickly and easily, via a totally independent party with complete anonymity.

As well as the obvious benefits to industry, the scheme is designed to benefit local communities. Eight freeports were introduced in last year’s budget with an aim to create economic activity near shipping ports or airports in areas that ‘need it most’. This is designed to support the ‘levelling up’ goal to close the gap between richer and poorer areas. Decreased crime must also be a focus to support this levelling up goal.

We encourage security professionals in UK maritime commercial ports and port facilities to introduce and promote PortSafe within their organisation by registering with the Joint Maritime Security Centre (JMSC).

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