The definition of soft target within the EU PRoTECT project was: a (public) site that is insufficiently protected against a terrorist attack and when attacked by a terrorist organization, will help terrorists obtain their goals. Within this project specific public spaces that can be defines as soft targets were assessed for their vulnerabilities against terrorist attacks and mitigating solutions were researched.
Public spaces that are vulnerable to terrorism (or other crime) can be considered as “soft targets”. This means that crowded public places including the metro, shopping centres, sports stadiums, bars, restaurants, clubs and commercial sidewalks, are easily accessible to the public and an easy target for terrorists to do great harm. These areas are targets because attacking them can aid terrorist organizations to obtain their goals such as enforcing their will on governments. These areas are called ‘soft’, because they are not hardened against such terrorist attacks. A crowded public space, for instance a shopping centre, may be hardened against threats like vandalism and petty crime, but not necessarily for a terrorist attack.