Londoners may soon receive anti-terror alerts on their mobile phones as recommendations of a new counter-terrorism review have emphasised on the need to strengthen the city’s preparedness for a possible terrorist attack. London mayor Sadiq Khan had directed Lord Harris of Haringey to conduct a review of the city’s preparedness for a terrorist attack and his wide-ranging recommendations released on Friday include creating a ring of mobile security barriers to protect government building.
It also suggested that the Home Office should consider combining Scotland Yard, the City of London Police and the British Transport Police (BTP).
“The quality and effectiveness of the work done by the intelligence services and the counter-terrorist police is among the best in the world, and if London were subject to a terrorist attack today, our emergency services response would be substantially faster than five years ago,” said Lord Harris, a security adviser who chaired the Metropolitan Police Authority.
“Nevertheless, a serious terrorist attack remains highly possible and we cannot be complacent. London needs to become a city where security and resilience is designed in and is part of the city’s fabric, and where everyone who lives and works here sees security and resilience as their responsibility just as much as it is for the emergency services and civic authorities,” he said.
The review also found that, once the Met had completed its recruitment of 600 extra firearms officers, there would be no need for a further increase.
“Lord Harris’ many recommendations deserve careful consideration and exploration over the coming months so we can take steps to ensure we are as prepared as possible,” Sadiq said.
The most significant terror threat was of a “marauding terrorist firearms attack” (MTFA) using guns, grenades, suicide bombs, sieges and hostage taking.
“Such tactics would stretch emergency service resources, and contribute to the confusion and panic created. If such an attack did occur, multiple casualties would be inevitable,” the report said.
“The diversity of these attacks, and the introduction of new methods by terrorists, means that we need to be prepared not only for those types of attacks we have seen before, but also for attacks the nature of which we cannot yet know,” it adds.
London has been listed as one of many global targets by Islamic State (ISIS) in online propaganda videos and the report said the volume of icons, tourist attractions and government buildings, as well as a busy transport system and large public events, made individual targets difficult to predict.
The UK’s threat level remains at severe, meaning a terror attack is considered highly likely.