The Christchurch attacks shook the entire world to its core. It instilled fear in the hearts of minorities around the world. Victims of Islamophobia, who were already putting up with gratuitous racist remarks on a daily basis, had to once again reevaluate their decision to leave their country. After all, if a Muslim can’t feel safe in a mosque, the place they must visit to stay connected to their divine source of guidance, then what’s the point?
With the rise of similar attacks, targeting specific minorities internationally, a wide range of groups, including religious, community and industry are now questioning their ability to prevent such attacks. People of all faiths are concerned for their safety.
Other mosques around the country are now considering increasing both active and passive security in and around their premises, to safeguard against follow-up or ‘copycat’ attacks. But how effective are such measures when it comes to warding off attacks?
Unfortunately, there are very few studies which report on the effectiveness of anti-terrorist measures, however, we can look to burglary statistics as an indicator.
It is known that in the US almost all burglaries cost owners far more than that of a security system and that approximately 60% of burglars will actively avoid homes with a system installed. It is worth noting however that a terrorist attack has vastly different objectives than that of a burglar. Will increasing security with features such as alarms and access control systems improve security or simply provide a potential terrorist with an even stronger motive?
There is one common theme in both these types of offenders however, each aims to leave having successfully achieved what they came to do. Therefore measures which reduce the likelihood of a successful attack, will also reduce the likelihood of an attack occurring at all.
So while a CCTV camera will not necessarily eliminate the likelihood of a terrorist achieving their desired outcome, it does provide options to the interested organisations . Modern cameras and computer vision can detect objects such as guns, recognize license plates, and sound alarms in cases where anomalous behavior is noticed. The fear of being identified can most certainly be a strong deterrent for malicious intruders.
More effective measures in cases like these would be solutions such as access control systems or security guards. Both of which presents an almost insurmountable barrier to a potential attacker, if they cannot even enter premises they wish to terrorise, they risk identification and complete failure before even drawing a weapon.
The presence of a guard outside premises, even if unarmed, tells an attacker that there are people with the sole purpose of identifying and stopping them. A closed-door poses the risk of not opening at all.
While it is unfortunate for a place of worship to need to resort to such measures, or even seem less welcoming to someone interested in the teaching they follow, it will be far less of a calamity than what occurred in Christchurch on the 15th of March this year.