Surge in demand for new anti-terror bollards and barriers in wake of attacks

A man lights a candle on Monday at an impromptu memorial where a van crashed into pedestrians in Barcelona. (Reuters)
Updated 22 August 2017
0

Surge in demand for new anti-terror bollards and barriers in wake of attacks

LONDON: Engineering companies are ramping up investment in new anti-terror bollards and barriers as demand for protection surges in the wake of a spate of attacks across Europe.
Attacks in London, France and most recently in Spain that involved vehicles being driven at speed into pedestrians has forced municipal authorities to look at new security measures. While not being treated as a terrorist attack, one person was also killed on Aug. 21 in the French city of Marseille after a van swerved off a road and hit a bus shelter.
With recent attacks involving the use of a vehicle as a weapon or “lone wolves” wielding guns or knives, manufacturers of anti-terror bollards and other forms of security products are looking at how best they can use their technology to protect a city’s busy streets, bridges and stadiums.
“With popular tourist or public areas now coming under increasing threat, this has driven the need for new product innovations to be designed. For instance, there is now an increasing need for temporary security measures,” said Gavin Hepburn, sales and marketing director at UK firm ATG Access.
It has just launched a new road block system that is said to be be able to resist the force of a 2,500kg vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour. The system is intended for use at temporary public events and has been designed to be lightweight and quick to deploy, the company said in a statement.
The UK firm Avon Barrier Corporation is also developing new temporary systems and is examining how its products can provide protection from gunfire.
“We are also looking at advertising boarding, so you incorporate some kind of ballistic protection within an advertising boarding so people run and hide. I am working on some very big projects that include that sort of thing,” said Paul Jeffrey, managing director, at the Bristol-based firm in a phone interview. He said his firm is also looking at protection systems for hotel staff in the event of an attack.
These developments come as governments and city authorities around the world look at how they can better protect their citizens from attack.
“We’ve seen a growth in investment in major cities across the UK, along with European cities, such as Amsterdam. This mostly comes down to the fact that there has been a change in threat in these cities. Fixed, critical, national infrastructure is no longer the main target for attacks, but instead terrorists are now directly targeting people within crowded public areas,” said Hepburn.
Following events in Barcelona, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government is set to launch a new strategy on how to protect crowded spaces from attacks.
Earlier this year, the Singaporean government agreed to make it a legal requirement for events with large crowds to meet a certain level of security requirements. This has possibly sparked increased demand for physical anti-terror systems in Asia, said Jeffrey.
“(The) Far East is just starting to pick up… there is an awful lot of activity going into Singapore,” he said.
While interest from governments and local councils has spiked, that interest does not always translate into actual investment, said Jeffrey.
“The trouble is people seem to get interested and start to think about it and then don’t do a lot about it,” he said. Cost is one of the prohibitive factors, and it is often difficult to prioritize where to focus your investment.
John Coaffee, professor of urban geography at the University of Warwick, said: “The priority is, of course keeping citizens safe, but given the vast array of soft targets that could potentially be attacked where do you prioritize? Likewise, what types of protective security measures are required? Bollards, however ugly, can be effective against vehicle-borne attacks but won’t prevent knife attacks or suicide attacks.”


Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

In this Sept. 21, 2014 file photo, Denis Baupin, a prominent Green Party member and former Paris city official, takes part in a climate change demonstration in Paris. (AP)
Updated 20 April 2019
0

Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

  • The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law

PARIS: A Paris court has dismissed a defamation case against six women who accused a former French lawmaker of sexual misconduct and the journalists who reported the allegations.
The court on Friday ordered Denis Baupin to pay 1,000 euros ($1,120) in damages to each of the 12 people he sued.
In May 2016, investigative website Mediapart and radio station France Inter published and broadcast accounts from 14 women who alleged Baupin had groped, sexted or otherwise harassed them.
The prominent Green Party member resigned as vice president of the lower House of Parliament but denied wrongdoing and launched a defamation lawsuit against the six women who were identified in the reports, some witnesses and journalists.
The case had been under particular scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Women rights activists have seen it as a test of French women’s ability to speak out when they think powerful men have sexually harassed or abused them — and how journalists can report it.
The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law.
In addition, it considered France Inter and Mediapart respected their additional obligations: the legitimacy of journalists’ goals in producing a story, demonstrating an absence of personal animosity, prudence and balance, and the quality of the investigation.
Most of the women who spoke about Baupin’s alleged behavior from 1998 to 2013 were fellow Green Party members, and outrage greeted their descriptions.
Four filed criminal complaints for sexual harassment at the time. A nine-month judicial investigation ended without charges. Prosecutors said the three-year statute of limitations had expired, but released a statement saying the women’s “measured, constant statements” and witness corroboration created a set of facts to support allegations of actions that “may for some of them be classified as criminal.”
The cleared women greeted the ruling with tears of joy and relief.
Lawyer Claire Moleon, a lawyer for one of them, told The Associated Press that “this is a great victory.”
“This is a very strong signal given by justice. It’s putting an end to a move that we were noticing to use defamation lawsuits to put more pressure on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” she said.
Moleon stressed that Baupin’s order to pay damages to the people he sent on trial shows that “sanctions apply” to such cases.
During the February trial, women had described, often with lots of emotion, their alleged harassment through text messages and inappropriate comments, and in some cases, alleged sexual assault attempts.
Some former officials of France’s Green Party also testified in court, saying they should have acted earlier on reports of sexual misconduct. They stressed that the #MeToo movement has raised their awareness.
Baupin’s lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat, had argued his client did nothing illegal and had filed a defamation lawsuit to “fully clear his name.”
Baupin had decided not to attend the trial.