An ever-evolving strategy to combat terror in the City is the outcome a year after Lord Toby Harris’ report on London’s readiness for an attack.
Last October Lord Harris highlighted the strengths and shortcomings of the Capital’s ability to respond to the terror threat.
In the 12 proceeding months Britain experienced three deadly strikes, including one right here in the Square Mile.
Now, City Police has revealed how its officers have responded to recommendations and how prepared they are in case of another attack.
So well documented has the force’s work been that many of its initiatives are now being rolled out across the Met to the benefit of all Londoners.
City Police has worked with staff based at the Square Mile’s most iconic buildings, which could be possible targets for terror.
A training package is now being implemented across the City, including training in a ‘Run, Hide and Tell’ strategy and ‘Project Griffin’, which helps civilian staff respond to bomb threats and marauding firearms attacks.
A spokesperson for the force said: “The training package delivered to all security industry staff in the City of London is currently under review.
“We have now run three training sessions for City of London Corporation security staff, with staff from Mansion House, Guildhall, Barbican, Central Criminal Court, and Tower Bridge all now trained.”
Since the report was published, every specially trained officer is now armed with a Taser.
“A trial is currently underway to assess which non-specialist officers can also be trained to carry it,” a statement explained.
Currently, only officers with two years’ experience can carry Tasers. They allow officers to subdue a suspect without lethal force, but are controversial after several videos surfaced on YouTube appearing to show excessive use of the stun guns.
As well as Tasers, the force has increased its ability to quickly deploy armed officers across the City. Authorised firearms officers will now be drafted in to support armed response vehicle officers in the event of an attack.
The Lord Harris report also praised examples of City Police operations, some of which have now been rolled out across the Capital through the Met.
“When the report was issued, we noted with interest references to Operation Griffin and Project Servator, counter-terrorist tactics developed and piloted by City of London Police, which we have continued to hone.
“Lord Harris noted how well the current arrangements work, and this was well evidenced in the dedicated pan-London response of all three London police forces during the tragic events throughout this year.”
Project Servator involves deterring potential terrorists by catching them scouting out a public target – known as hostile reconnaissance – and was piloted by officers in the Square Mile.
— City Police Officers (@CityPoliceCops) October 17, 2017
The Met is now working with City Police to share tactics and hone a ‘Tri-Force’ response alongside the river authorities.
Lord Harris said: “I am pleased that so much work has been done by the Met and others in the Greater London Assembly family to take action on the recommendations. That work is essential and that progress needs to be continued.”
In another development, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said two thirds of Lord Harris’ recommendations have now been implemented across London. The Mayor also warned the government to aid him and police around the Capital to achieve the rest of the recommendations, saying: “The government needs to put Londoners’ safety first – it must step up, stop dragging its feet, and take urgent action on the remaining recommendations.
“I have made it clear time and time again that the Met’s budget is on a cliff-edge, and have done everything in my power to provide the police with extra funding.
“If the government continues to ignore the stark facts, then all the great work we have achieved together to keep Londoners safe from terrorism could be put in jeopardy.”
When contacted by City Matters about any changes made to its own safety measures, a spokesperson for the City Corporation said the authority did not comment on security policy.
Cover image by PC Matt Hone (Creative Commons).