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Protecting vulnerable cities: the UK's resilience response to defending everyday urban infrastructure

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The events of September 11 2001 in New York and Washington, and of July 7 2005 in London, have ushered in a new era in protective counterterrorist planning within UK urban areas. With the mode of terrorist attack now encompassing the possibility of no-warning suicide attacks, and target selection now often being seen as related to crowd density, a variety of public places such as sports stadiums, shopping centres, light rail systems, and nightclubs now have to consider ‘designed-in’ counterterrorism measures. As such the UK has developed a national counterterrorist strategy (CONTEST) which is constantly revised, and one strand of which focuses on protective security measures. In the context of this ‘Protect’ strand of policy, and the increased targeting of crowded places by international terrorist groups, this article outlines the recent attempts to design-in counterterrorism features to the urban landscape while paying attention not just to their effectiveness and robustness, but also to their acceptability to the general public and impact upon the everyday experience of the city. The article also addresses how the need to consider counterterrorism has affected the practices of built-environment professionals such as spatial planners. Reflections upon how this aspect of counterterrorism policy might develop in the future are also offered.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of Spatial Planning and Urban Resilience at the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham.

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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