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Evaluating Terrorism Risks Across the Globe: An Interview with the Experts


Jim M. and Matthew H. are specialists in counterterrorism protective security. The two have a combined total of 47 years working in law enforcement and are now the technical experts for Chubb’s Terrorism Risk Evaluation Services (TRES) product. This product assesses customers’ global risk across portfolios of properties or operating units to identify potential hotspot areas, as well as security vulnerabilities, and makes recommendations for how these might be mitigated. TRES was developed following feedback from Chubb clients who wanted to better understand the potential terrorism and political violence exposures for their global operational bases, and it is offered as a supplement to terrorism and political violence insurance policies.


Evaluated by the experts

TRES is unique in the insurance industry, and brings together Chubb’s expertise across multiple teams, including terrorism, risk engineering, global security, catastrophe modelling and digital. But the key ingredient is Jim and Matthew’s extensive experience in the field. “Our backgrounds in counterterrorism protective security are a must for a product like this.” Jim declares. “We couldn’t run TRES without it.” Jim and Matthew’s respective careers illustrate their expertise. “I served as an officer in the Metropolitan Police for 30 years.” Jim explains. “In those 30 years, I did various roles, including diplomatic protection, firearms and counterterrorism.” After the 7/7 bombings in London, he was seconded to the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure – now the National Protective Security Authority – to work with the Home Office on the first UK Government’s Crowded Places Risk Assessment. He worked as a Home Office-trained crime prevention officer from 2001 and then moved into business. He has been at Chubb for a decade.

Matthew’s experience is equally as extensive. “I served as an officer in the City of London police, working as a firearms specialist and in counterterrorism, before specialising as a Counterterrorism Security Adviser, giving protective security advice to businesses in the City,” he reveals. From 2011, he worked with a group of government human factor experts, including psychologists, to understand the hostile mindset and to better predict attack locations, methodologies and attack planning. This later came to be known as Project Servator and is now the national best practice for counterterrorism policing. In 2017, Matthew was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for this work. In 2020, he became a Government Security Adviser providing protective security advice to different government departments. He has been at Chubb for two years.

Both Jim and Matthew are graduates in counterterrorism protective security and Jim is on the register of Chartered Security Professionals and a member of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Matthew is a member of the Security Institute. But their experience is not limited to the U.K. While working in government and at Chubb, both have spent time working on projects in Asia Pacific, the U.S., the Middle East and Europe. This means that they understand the terrorism risk landscape across the globe, enabling them to undertake TRES assessments in every continent. 


Evaluating for terrorism risks – the process

Assessing a company’s premises and operations to identify security vulnerabilities is no mean feat. It requires extensive research and analysis before even setting foot on a property. The team will identify possible and likely threats to the location in question based on the occupancy, location and surrounding exposures. “To understand the threat, we need to assess the intent of potential adversaries and their capability.” Jim explains. 

To do this, they connect with local security experts and risk engineers in that area, utilise their strategic connections within governments and source data from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a number of commercial partners including S&P Global, and the Chubb Global Security Operations Centre (GSOC). Matthew details their rationale: “International terrorist threats – from groups such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda for example – may look similar in many countries. But domestic terrorism can be very different from country to country or city to city. To identify the risks, we must understand which hostile groups are active in the locale and which individuals or groups they’re focused on.” The best way to do this, Matthew explains, is to understand how a terrorist might think. “Our team start by getting themselves into the mindset of the hostile, to assess through the eyes of a terrorist,” he states. The team also become familiar with local legal requirements and relevant legislation, where necessary.

Once the offsite research and analysis has been completed, the TRES team assess the site or sites in scope. Using the “onion-peeling principle”, as Jim puts it, they work from the outside perimeter inwards. They will study the environment, including neighbouring premises, the perimeter, guarding and the approaches, before moving on to the building’s fabric and interior. Finally, they assess the security operation functions and general security plans. If there is a critical asset present on site, they will work through this formula in reverse. When assessing premises, the team will work with a key person on site who has thorough knowledge of the site and understands the security systems in place. For example, the TRES inspector will want to understand the insider threat level. “We will ask: do they have pre-employment screening procedures? Do they have a thorough process to close down access to the premises for former employees? We look at all these things to assess operations as a whole.” Matthew explains. 


Understanding the assessment

When the assessment is complete, the team will pull together their analysis of the on and offsite intelligence. This includes analysis from an external risk consultancy and leverages Chubb’s experienced catastrophe modelling and digital teams who have developed new technology to assist with the assessment. The TRES team write a detailed report that outlines their findings, with risk mitigation scores attributed to each. The report highlights vulnerabilities and potential terror targets in the facility, and offers suggestions for how exposures can be addressed. 

Jim is keen to stress that their recommendations are purely advisory. “Implementing our recommendations is not mandatory but using TRES to identify vulnerabilities in your premises can help to maintain corporate responsibility and uphold brand reputation.” Additionally, he emphasises that their recommendations are always proportional to the site under inspection. “For an office block in the middle of a bustling city, we’re not going to suggest a guard tower and a barbed wire fence,” he explains. “Our suggestions are always feasible and reasonable, and formulated using the most up-to-date intelligence about the area.” 


Looking to the future

Ultimately, the TRES assessment and recommendations are future-facing. Jim says: “We try to understand what the threat will look like in two years’ time, in 10 years’ time, and so on, and our report will suggest ways to mitigate those future threats.” 

As for the future of the TRES product, the sky’s the limit. “I’ve developed a training course on TRES for our risk engineers in different countries, so we can bring more people into the team.” Matthew says. “Extending our risk engineers’ skills and capabilities to include terrorism risks has been working brilliantly, as they are already so experienced in analysing and assessing risk. Now they can identify security vulnerabilities and terrorism threats too, which expands our capacity to take on more TRES projects across the globe.” 

If you’d like more information about TRES, you can read more on the webpage



All content in this material is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute personal advice or a recommendation to any individual or business of any product or service. Please refer to the policy documentation issued for full terms and conditions of coverage.

Chubb European Group SE (CEG) is an undertaking governed by the provisions of the French insurance code with registration number 450 327 374 RCS Nanterre. Registered office: La Tour Carpe Diem, 31 Place des Corolles, Esplanade Nord, 92400 Courbevoie, France. CEG has fully paid share capital of €896,176,662. UK business address: 100 Leadenhall Street, London EC3A 3BP. Authorised and supervised by the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (4, Place de Budapest, CS 92459, 75436 PARIS CEDEX 09) and authorised and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority are available from us on request.

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