Brian Sims

CPNI launches “pioneering” course for security Control Room operators

IN ITS role as the national technical authority for physical and personnel protective security, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has launched a new training course aimed squarely at security Control Room operators.

The course and associated guidance produced by the CPNI enables businesses and organisations alike to plan and prepare for – as well as respond to - terrorist incidents, thereby increasing the capabilities of security Control Room operators and other security personnel.

Uniquely based around research undertaken since 2017, the course offers “world-first” immersive exercises that simulate multiple terrorist incident scenarios, enabling delegates to practice decision-making in real-time as if they were in a real Control Room environment.

The course is informed by the recently updated guidance, developed through detailed analysis of previous terrorist incidents, extensive research that has included live simulations of attacks (as part of the CPNI’s ASCEND trials) and surveys of existing Command and Control capabilities.

Importance of security Control Room operators

Through five years of research, the CPNI has found that most casualties in a terrorist incident occur within the first few minutes. During the initial period before the Emergency Services have arrived on scene, the security Control Room is the front line of defence, leading and organising the initial response to the terrorist incident.

Every second counts during an attack and every second that passes is an opportunity to keep the threat as far away from people as possible, assist those who need urgent help and work with the Emergency Services.

Effective Command and Control is critical for mitigating the impact of terrorist incidents. Sites are unlikely to provide an effective response to a terrorist incident unless: 

*Security Control Room personnel are provided with the appropriate equipment, policies and procedures.

*operators are given the necessary training and time to practice and exercise the response

Worryingly, the CPNI’s research has shown that UK businesses and organisations are not sufficiently prepared for terrorist incidents. Security Control Room operators are often unclear on what tasks need to be completed and whose responsible for each task, duly resulting in duplication of effort and essential tasks.

Terrorist attacks are perhaps the most challenging types of incidents an organisation will ever face. Fortunately, they are also rare and most people will never encounter one. That said, training and rehearsal are often the only ways in which security Control Room operators can gain the necessary skills and begin to practice them ahead of a real incident.

Immersive exercises

The course is specifically designed for operators who work in security Control Rooms within national infrastructure sites and crowded places. It’s also valuable for those directly responsible for security Control Room operators.

Over 120 delegates have attended pilot courses in 2022, including operators from the transport, retail, leisure, major events and Government as well as those tasked with looking after publicly accessible locations across the country. Their feedback confirmed the need for the course and, in particular, the value of the fully immersive exercises in making operators more knowledgeable, more confident and more experienced in acting appropriately and effectively.

Commenting on the course, a CPNI spokesperson stated: “Our goal is to make security Control Room operators across the country feel as ready as possible to respond to a terrorist incident as this is crucial when it comes to ensuring the safety of the British public. Understanding responsibilities and a quick response can only be achieved by being well prepared.”

The spokesperson added: “Existing training courses tend to consist of tabletop exercises, but our new course is the first to be informed by comprehensive research and offers delegates realistic immersive exercises designed to give them practical, hands-on experience of operating under the pressure of simulated terrorist incidents. We look forward to working with many more security Control Room operators over the coming months and years to enact our belief that acting fast saves lives.”

*The five-day course only hosts a small number of delegates at a time (ie a maximum number of 24) to enable each learner to derive the most out of the experience as they’re supported by expert trainers. Spaces are available from January 2023 onwards at locations right across the country

**Details can be found on the Responding to Terrorist Incidents: Security Control Room Operators Course website at or send an e-mail to

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