Archive Protection - Trident Manor Cultural Protection Services

Monday, 9th May 2022

Trident Manor Cultural Protection Services was chosen to undertake a security threat, risk, and vulnerability assessment of an educational venue's archives containing materials of national and international significance.

During April/May 2022, members of Trident Manor undertook a review of multiple buildings housing art and archives of global significance in order to evaluate the security levels that existed and identify steps that would better protect the assets from all forms of harm and damage.

As with most assessments, it is vital that the nature and characteristics of the assets are understood and the different threats that exist identified. In this case, Trident Manor Cultural Protection Services not only consider the criminal threats that existed, but also the environmental hazards (storage facilities were located on a flood plain), operational risks that impact the assets, and social threats that can target the assets, operations, or organisations. 

As well as the value of the assets and their attractiveness to criminals (opportunistic and organised) an increasing part of the protection of cultural assets relates to their provenance and historical relevance or setting. Some of the issues that need to be considered include:

  • Creator
  • Whether it is contested
  • Looted or taken during campaigns
  • Religious themes
  • Slavery links
  • Colonial legacy
  • Political and social acceptance

It is only once you are able to contextualise what it is you are protecting and why somebody would want to cause loss, harm, or damage can you start developing defence in depth programmes involving physical, technical, operational, and educational protective measures.

In this case, the client explained the significance of parts of the collection to the host nation and the more radical nationalistic elements within who may seek to steal items for patriotic purposes. 

This allowed a pragmatic assessment to be undertaken whereby a balanced approach to protective layering was delivered alongside the strengthening of the protection afforded to critical assets. (The ability to deliver this flexible approach is only possible if there is a thorough knowledge and understanding of the sector and what can impact it.)

We were able to review and provide recommendations to update and improve the organisational protective governance around the handling and securing of the artefacts. We were also able to increase the protective resilience of the physical barriers that existed which were further strengthened by the application of additional technical measures.

There was a need for operational practices to be altered due to the desire to increase the level of public engagement and direct involvement in the collections. In all over seven days were needed to undertake the assessment, hold discussions, and prepare the written report.

What was of real benefit to the client was that everything that was recommended was sensible, pragmatic, and achievable by non-security experts. Trident Manor has continued to support and offer increased engagement while the client seeks to implement the recommendations outlined within the final report. A positive result for all parties and Trident Manor Cultural Protection Services now has another satisfied customer.

If you would like to find out more about how Trident Manor can help you reduce the risks to National Archives or materials of cultural significance why not reach out to our experts, Click here.