Overview

The purpose of this fact sheet is to support applications for Vehicle-as-a-Weapon (VAW) protective measures to the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

Protective measures such as bollards, barriers, and landscaping or streetscape elements can be effective against potential VAW attacks by:

  • Deterring potential attackers. Measures can make an area less attractive to an attack, by obscuring crowds from view or making an attack seem unlikely to succeed.
  • Detecting and delaying an attacker. Measures can create noise and disturbance when impacted, which alerts people nearby, as well as physically slow or disable a vehicle giving people more time to move to safety.

However, it is important when planning VAW protections to ensure the safety benefit of any investment is clear, and that VAW measures do not reduce the amenity and functionality of a place and/or provide insufficient protection.

Key Questions

Before choosing protective infrastructure as your solution, an overall threat and vulnerability assessment is recommended. The following questions should be an initial prompt:

  • What is the vulnerability of the site to various threats and their consequence? What about the site might make it an attractive target?
  • How is the place used, when, by whom, for what purposes, and how predictably? Is the place crowded during periodic events, during peak times daily, or at most times?
  • Will people receive early warning of an attack, through noise or disturbance? Are people able to move out of the way of an attack, and are there safer places for them to take shelter?
  • What are you trying to achieve with VAW measures? Is this addressing the highest risk areas, and is it proportionate?
  • How will they be monitored and maintained?
  • Can you mitigate the threat without barriers, such as through moving or obscuring crowds, or traffic calming measures?

Other important considerations

  • It is not possible to protect everything, so you need to prioritise the highest areas of risk with proportionate responses.
  • Think beyond bollards – landscaping, street furniture, security communications, temporary measures for events, and operational responses can also address VAW threats and may be more cost effective.
  • There may be legitimate vehicle access needs for deliveries, events, or emergency services. Ensure you consult sufficiently to capture all users of the site.
  • If using operable measures to allow vehicle access, ensure adequate training for users and monitoring of compliance.
  • You must comply with all relevant Australian Standards such as for pathways and ramps, and ensure any measures maintain access for people with vision or mobility impairment.
  • Depending on what you’re installing, there may be issues with underground services such as electricity or telephone cabling.
  • Your site may have multiple threat types, so ensure that VAW protections are part of an integrated security plan for your site.

Additional resources

Further information on protecting crowded places, conducting self-assessments and protective measures can be found on the Australian National Security website: Australia’s Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism (External link)

Author
Community Crime Prevention Program
Publisher
Department of Justice and Community Safety
Date of Publication

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