New Zealand is a "sitting duck" for a terror attack and should consider bag checks of shoppers and moviegoers, and increased surveillance in popular public places, a global expert in extreme events says.
In a week when New Zealand joined the war on Islamic State and Security Intelligence Service boss Rebecca Kitteridge confirmed New Zealand was at increased risk of a terrorist attack, security expert Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor said New Zealand urgently needed a major domestic security overhaul.
She spoke as Australian counter-terrorism police yesterday arrested five people in Melbourne over an alleged Anzac Day terror plot.
Sullivan-Taylor, whose CV includes reviewing the UK's national security and Civil Contingencies Act for then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, said New Zealand needed to upgrade security measures to match those in the UK and the US, including greater video monitoring of shoppers.
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Westfield shopping malls, Vector Arena, Eden Park and the Sky Tower were among potentially vulnerable targets, said Sullivan-Taylor.
New Zealand should consider the introduction of bag checking at malls and adjoining movie theatres, routine ID checks, restricted entry to rooftop or basement carparks and issuing security passes for mall workers.
"While the likelihood of a terrorist attack happening in New Zealand is lower than in other parts of the Western world, the level of exposure here is actually much higher," Sullivan-Taylor told the Herald on Sunday.
"There needs to be more consideration of the risks and contingencies."
Sullivan-Taylor said last year's Sydney hostage crisis at the Lindt Cafe should serve as a wake-up for those who thought New Zealand wasn't a potential terror target.
And in February, al-Qaeda-linked terror group al Shabab called on extremists to attack shopping malls in Western nations, specifically Westfield, of which there were nine in New Zealand.
"Because security in countries like the US and the UK is much higher, it's possible that a brand that also operates here could be targeted as a way of terrorists getting their message back to the US and UK more easily," Sullivan-Taylor said.
"The result could well be major international chains start to step up security measures in New Zealand in order to reduce exposure and give themselves as much protection here as they have overseas, which is then likely to see their competitors follow suit."
Sullivan-Taylor has returned to New Zealand to extend her work at Aston and Warwick business schools in the UK with a new research project with the University of Auckland Business School.
Her investigation will compare the preparedness of Kiwi companies, identifying "soft targets" in public spaces and the private sector.
Linda Trainer, general manager of shopping centre management for Westfield's Australia and New Zealand parent company, Scentre Group, said it was constantly reviewing its security systems.
That included work conducted by its "global risk and security teams", but she would not elaborate further.
A police spokesman would not discuss specific security measures for Anzac Day, but said in light of police foiling the alleged Melbourne plot, they would confer with their counterparts across the Tasman.
SkyCity confirmed it constantly looked at its security measures.