Are we ready?
Arecent succession of terrorist atrocities across the globe, including one in Melbourne, has raised uestions for North Shore residents and businesses -could it happen here and are we ready?
Local businesses and institutions are undoubtedly reviewing security in the wake of random attacks into crowds, shops and public venues. But just how they're doing it is being kept under wraps.
Crowded North Shore venues, including Taronga Zoo, Luna Park and Westfield Chatswood, are loathe to discuss security measures. Asked by North Shore Living what they're doing to upgrade security, most declined to discuss details.
Taronga Zoo sees 1.8 million visitors pass through its gates every year. In relation to security, Taronga Zoo spokesperson Sarah Lievore simply states, "Security procedures are in place, in line with NSW government guidelines."
Westfield Chatswood was equally circumspect, with spokesperson Julia Clarke, from the owner and operator of the centre, Scentre Group, saying, "The safety and security of shoppers and retailers at Westfield shopping centres is a priority.
"Scentre Group maintains a close working relationship with police and other agencies and, of course, with our retail partners as well. We don't provide commentary on our security practices and procedures other than to say they are well-understood and are adjusted from time to time as required," Ms Clarke explains.
A check of shops in Westfield revealed a patchy level of awareness amongst many staff. Fiona' who works at a skincare shop, reveals: "We received a security poster from Westfield telling us what to do if there's a bomb threat, hostage or fire. But we haven't had anything to back it up and we definitely need formal training from Westfield."
She adds, "Someone left a bag outside our store a few months ago and we called Westfield security but no-one came within 15 minutes. Only when two passing policemen checked it did we feel safe. We only see the security guards once or twice a day here, pushing shopping trolleys around."
This sentiment was echoed by staff in several other shops - some who had no awareness of the security poster or procedures. Joshua, who works at an electrical goods shop in the centre, says they have monthly fire drills - though often early in the morning before most employees arrive for work.
More forthcoming with information was The Concourse. Spokesperson for the venue, Casey Walton, explains there are "comprehensive emergency safety measures in place that cover numerous scenarios." This includes trained facilities staff and security guards on site patrolling the venue and precinct, an emergency warning and intercommunication system, evacuation plans and procedures, CCTV, bollards, fire detection and alarm systems throughout the building, and equipment in case of fire.
"Willoughby Council which runs the building, has also recently undertaken additional safety measures and staff training for events in other areas of Chatswood's CB1)",she adds.
North Shore and Harbourside Local Area Command spokesperson Kevin Daley says police conduct regular security assessments and provide advice to agencies and stakeholders to ensure the safety of the community.
°We look at the arrangements in place and determine whether any additional measures are required, and regularly exercise our response capabilities with all emergency service personnel, as well as with owners and operators of crowded places," he says.
"The NSW Police Force engages with the general public and business community as often they're the first to see things that can lead to investigations, and ultimately arrests.
"We continue to ask people to be vigilant and report anything suspicious - and go about their lives today as they did yesterday."