Chiswick Business Park fortified against potential terror attacks

Image above: Concrete barriers and metal doorways at Chiswick Business Park; photograph Iran International

Concrete barriers, which can withstand impact from a 7.5 tonne vehicle travelling 50Mph, among new measures

Additional security fortifications have been installed at Chiswick Business Park in response to ongoing concerns for the safety of journalists working at Iran International television studios, after “severe and credible” death threats were made against them. On 17 December, the Metropolitan Police, working closely with MI5, responded with a show of force to protect the 100 or so employees working in the building.

The armoured vehicles have remained on site while concrete barriers, metal fences and security checkpoints were erected on Saturday (26 November). There is police presence at the security checkpoints, as well as security personnel employed by Enjoy-Work, the company which manages the site.

Image above: Vehicles queue at security point at Chiswick Business Park; photograph Iran International

Pedestrian visitors are required to walk through the metal doorways separating the concrete barriers. The barriers are built to withstand an impact from a 7.5-tonne vehicle travelling at 50 miles per hour.

Similar barriers have been deployed in other UK cities as a protective measure at European style Christmas markets to prevent terror attacks using vehicles as weapons.

Images above: Stanmore Way security checkpoint, concrete barriers at the High Rd entrance; photographs Iran International

440 and 70 buses no longer stopping at site

Metal gates have been erected around the entire building (Building 11) which houses Iran International’s studios. Security staff from Enjoy-Work check everyone’s clearance before allowing anyone inside. The footbridge leading to Chiswick Park is open for pedestrian use, but a barrier has been put at the end of the bridge close to the residential area.

There are security checkpoints for vehicles travelling into and out of the park at both the Chiswick High Rd and Bollo Lane / Stanhope Way entrances. New measures at these barriers for vehicle access include vehicle registration and physical checks. “Various other measures” have been implemented to check delivery and other vehicles which need access more thoroughly.

The 440 and 70 buses will not be stopping at the site until further notice.

Image above: Inside Iran International’s newsroom; photograph Matt Smith

Journalists carry as on as normal in face of intimidation

Iran International has described security measures as one of the largest counter terrorism operations put in place for a non-public organisation in the UK in recent years.

Journalists working at the Chiswick studios have been targeted for their coverage of the recent protests in Iran. Their broadcasts are watched over the internet by Iranian nationals critical of the government and as a result the TV station has been proscribed as a “terrorist” organisation.

UK intelligence intercepted plans to attack the site being discussed and hostile surveillance was spotted outside both the offices of Iran International and the homes of some of its staff.

The surveillance has been carried out by both experienced Iranian state operatives and less experienced, locally recruited people. In one example given to The Chiswick Calendar, two men and a woman with a pram were taking photographs of the building on a cold night at 11pm.

Image above: Inside Iran International’s newsroom; photograph Matt Smith

While the threat is not expected to go away any time soon, workers at Iran International’s studio seemed relaxed on Monday when I visited. Visiting during lunch time I was escorted around the studio for a look around with Adam Baillie, one of the senior studio producers.

Seeing the security measures in person is at first a bit overwhelming, but staff at Iran International seem to have acclimatised to the changes. They remain undeterred in the face of intimidation from Tehran and praised the support the support they have received from the police and intelligence services, which one worker described as the Government effectively saying “you will not threaten British citizens”.

Image above: Chiswick High Rd security checkpoint at Chiswick Business Park; photograph Iran International

Residents and workers say they have been left out of the loop and are disappointed at lack of communication

Residents living close to Chiswick Business Park and workers from other companies have told us they have been “left out of the loop” as security has continued to tighten around the site.

Chiswick Business Park hosts 50 companies and over 9,000 people work there. Some workers in other companies said they would be based from home “until further notice” in response to the increased police presence. Others said on Monday they would be returning to the office at some point this week, while some said they had never left.

One told us the new security arrangements weren’t clear and someone had been “barked at” by a police officer apparently for walking the wrong way.

But Phil Deans, President and Vice Chancellor of Richmond American University, based at Chiswick Business Park in the building next to Iran International, told us:

“There has been no significant impact on Richmond American University London from the security measures which have been put in place over the last week at Chiswick Park.  We are continuing to work and teach as normal at the University.

“Enjoy-Work have been very good in keeping us updated on developments, which have included reminders to book parking and to ensure that guests should be registered, all of which were standard practice here before.  We have not been advised of any increase in risk so the message from the Police remains: please be alert but not alarmed.”

Residents we spoke to say they are avoiding using Chiswick Park entirely and are advising their children and others to do the same, although public access is not being restricted, because they are worried and uncertain whether its safe to do so.

The general consensus among residents, according to one who preferred not to be named, is that they would have appreciated being kept better informed by Enjoy-Work, who have been “lax” about communicating with them about the security arrangements and what they might mean for the area.

The Chiswick Calendar understands that the annual Christmas Fair, which usually has stall holders and from outside the business park and attracts the general public, will not go ahead this year.

When asked for comment by The Chiswick Calendar, a spokesperson for Enjoy-Work said:

“As this is a police matter, we suggest contacting the Met Police directly with any questions regarding the measures at the Park.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Just Stop Oil starts new campaign of traffic disruption

See also: Barnes Railway Bridge rail disruption to continue “no later than 5 December”

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