Follow the Smoke: Protests In Catalonia
Security Manager, Bianca Cebuc was recently deployed along with Security Consultant, Ricardo Lenoir-Grand Pons, to Barcelona (Catalonia region), a city impacted by large and disruptive protests.
Follow the smoke: Deployment during protests in Catalonia
Back in October 2017, I was closely monitoring the events around a banned independence referendum in Catalonia autonomous community as part of my duties in the Regional Security Centre in London. The events around the date had attracted significant client interest and much of October was dedicated to ensuring we were able to reassure our clients and operate efficiently and effectively in this rapidly-developing environment.
Two years later, our Regional Security Centre is dealing with the aftermath of those days in 2017, as a recent trial of the pro-independence leaders organising the referendum led to a renewed spike in demonstrations throughout Catalonia. However, this time I was following the events even closer – on the 17 October, as protests were growing in intensity, and with large demonstrations expected the following day, I was arriving in Barcelona alongside my Madrid-based colleague, Ricardo.
Delivering the mission
Our objective there was three-fold. Firstly, from an operational point of view, we wanted to assess exactly what our providers on the ground can support with, particularly in light of a general strike which was due to disrupt transport, and of reports of vandalism and violence during previous demonstrations.
We therefore organised meetings, re-assessed contacts and, where necessary, sought to expand our network to ensure clients can choose from a wider list of potential providers.
Secondly, we wanted to ensure that should the situation escalate further, we are there to support members ourselves. In times of stress, we are well aware of the additional strain that coordinating a potential evacuation can put on people, so we wanted to make sure that our team was ready to assist on short notice.
In addition to this, our language skills and knowledge of the situation was also an advantage for our members – as we’ve learnt throughout the years, sometimes getting out of a sticky situation is as easy as having someone by your side who knows what to say, who to say it to, at the right time.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, our deployment was all about delivering key and timely information. In the era of rumours and fake news, it is crucial that we are able to identify early any potential risks for our members, and that we report developments with accuracy and objectivity.
In the centre of action
Ricardo and I spent the next couple of days in the midst of it all: sending live alerts to our team in London as the demonstrations were escalating, providing details of police response, live footage of clashes and tactical information regarding crowd and police movements. On this occasion, we followed the protests from one location to another, with an aim to be as close to the action as possible to relay accurate and timely information to our members.
Ready to go again
Although back in London now, we continue to be just as close to the action, as the 24/7 team has access to information channels that provide them - and our members – with real-time updates. Meanwhile, our analysts are keeping an eye on developments and ‘grab-bags’ are ready for any further deployments needed!
Our Special Report:
Download our recording – where Security Manager, Hector Ros Soto, explains the situation in Catalonia and provides the latest security advice for this area.