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How to Manage a Crisis Tip #013: How to identify suspicious behaviour

By Elaine Doyle


A drunken nuisance or terrorist? Are your staff equipped to analyse suspicious behaviour and act accordingly?

Erratic, strange or suspicious behaviour of a patron(s) could lead to an emergency response. Recently in Melbourne the suspicious behaviour of a patron of an entertainment complex caused an evacuation and lockdown.

The patron who attended a bar in the complex defiantly announced he was a terrorist. Carrying a backpack that was repeatedly left unattended, his behaviour alerted security staff who enacted their emergency response.

Fortunately, this instance wasn’t a terrorist attack and no one was physically harmed. The patron had been drinking heavily and was allegedly coping with unemployment and homelessness issues however his erratic behaviour on the day was deemed to be the actions of a terrorist. Security measures were swiftly enacted to protect patrons and staff.

When does strange behaviour cross the line to threatening behaviour, to be acted upon? Safety is the responsibility of all staff, not just the organisation’s security guards. Empowering staff with the skills to read behaviour and know when to act will increase the safety of all staff and patrons. Organisations must prepare their staff by educating them in the skills to identify:

  1. What is happening around you? (consistently scanning the environment)

  2. What does a threat look like? (does anything look 'out-of-place')

  3. When to act? (if in doubt - always alert security)

The most important point to remember is that suspicious or erratic behaviour should be treated as suspicious until proven safe.

Staff should alert security to enact a suspicious behaviour protocols. This could include engaging additional staff or security to assist and monitor, approach the person to question them to further ascertain the risk, CCTV tracking and preparing to take the next step in their response if necessary.

If you need support in training your staff in this area, Crisis Shield now runs Situational Awareness workshops that train staff on:

  • What is situational awareness

  • Why it’s important (current landscape)

  • Types of threats & emergencies

  • Threat detection

  • Responsibilities in an emergency

  • How to analyse an environment

  • Practical strategies to deal with threats

  • How to report (incl. activation of alarms)

  • Weapon identification

  • Resources available

  • Reacting & evacuating safely (incl. location of escape routes)

  • Working with authorities involved

  • Post-incident protocol

  • Procedures for specific emergencies

If you'd like further advice, information or a quote for training in your workplace, contact the team today.

#threatdetection #crisispreparedness #crisismanagement