THE former Metropolitan Police Commissioner claims the “soft” outer ring of security at the Palace of Westminster must be enhanced after a video showed the complex’s gates were left open and apparently unmanned after Wednesday’s terror attack. The footage shows the aftermath of the assault on New Palace Yard which left PC Keith Palmer mortally wounded. As armed officers swarm the cobbled forecourt, having shot dead terrorist Khalid Masood, the imposing iron gate which allows vehicles to enter can be seen wide open.
Pedestrians are shown walking past and at one stage a courier on a moped appears to enter unchallenged.
Blair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am absolutely certain that there will be a review now of the outer soft ring that those of us who work at the Palace of Westminster are very used to.
“Always behind it is the inner core of armed officers, but PC Keith Palmer has paid with his life for that soft outer rim and I think that his family at least, and everybody else, needs the reassurance that will be reviewed.”
Blair refused to criticise the officers who apparently left the gate unguarded, describing them as “human beings” who will have been “gripped completely” by the attack while knowing the “cavalry” of armed officers was on its way.
But he added: “I’m absolutely certain that there will have to be changes.
“People are used to the fact that if they go into Downing Street4 they are confronted by basically closed gates and armed officers and I’m afraid that’s what will have to happen, but we’ll leave it to the reviews to see what it is.
“But I don’t think there should be shock horror about the fact the gates were open for a moment after that kind of attack.”
Evans described the outrage as “one of those things that by experience you learn” from.
He revealed that “lots” of MPs locked in the Commons chamber during and after the attack were discussing how to boost security in certain areas, but said far more checks are carried out at Carriage Gates than we he was elected in 1992 and a “bobby” would just “wave you through”.
The Tory MP said: “I’ve got no doubts whatsoever that there will be enhanced features of security, it’s happening on a regular basis, but following this tragedy security has got to be upped at the same time as still having a welcoming hand to members of the public to come and see how democracy works.”
Parliamentary authorities and the police are carrying out a review of security in the wake of the atrocity.
The complex’s main entrance has two sets of large metal gates allowing vehicles to go in and out of the estate and they have traditionally been left open during the day.
A pair of smaller, makeshift gates was introduced more recently with two police officers at each to check passes and allow cyclists, cars and delivery drivers to come and go.
Just inside the entrance gate, armed police are usually present and an unarmed officer sits in a booth by the exit.
Electronic ramps are depressed and barriers lifted further into the courtyard after passes are checked using handheld machines which flash up with a picture of the pass holder .
MPs’ vehicles are also checked for bombs before they can access the underground car park where the Tory MP Airey Neave was blown up in 1979.
The UK threat level has been severe for some time and this level will not change.
The level of threat is complex and ranges from lone actors intent on carrying out crude attacks to sophisticated networks pursuing ambitious and coordinated plots;
As always, we advise the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour or activity to the Anti Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321 or in an emergency the public should always call 999. Please reinforce that to your workforce. I appreciate that you have responsibility for the security of buildings and therefore a large number of people. It is important at times such as these that the police security stance and that of the private security sector is joined up. As a result, we are recommending that you consider some protective security tactics to aid your security at this time, whilst remembering that the threat level remains at SEVERE.
We know that terrorists will undertake hostile scouting ahead of conducting an attack and increased vigilance by staff and the creation of a hostile environment combats such hostile inspection. Please refresh the knowledge of staff that have received Project Griffin and Project Argus training and deploy staff who have received training in behavioural detection (where you have them). Please be proactive in challenging visitors, vehicles and anything out of place and consider the following options from our Stakeholder Menu of Options, particularly around crowded place, night time economy and iconic sites.
- Review patrol strategy (be unpredictable). Adopt high visibility clothing.
- Brigade resources with neighbouring contracts/buildings
- Report any suspicious activity in a timely manner. Early reporting of suspected hostile reconnaissance is vital in combating terrorism
- Implement communication links with surrounding premises to pass on information about suspicious activity/behaviour
- Consider closing non-essential access and egress points
- Focus CCTV on all communal areas and vulnerable points
- Ensure CCTV is fit for purpose
This is not an exclusive list and I recommend you look at the full menu and consider any other options that suit your premises or organisation. Please review your building and business continuity plans in the light of this attack. You should ensure that first aid points are fully stocked and the location of key equipment is made clear to all staff. We also recommend that staff are directed to the Citizen Aid app and Run, Hide, Tell on YouTube.
The number of casualties treated by the public highlights the importance of understanding first aid.
NaCTSO has refreshed its latest guidance on recognising the terrorist threat and I would recommend you access this at www.nactso.gov.uk
The following links provide additional useful information that may assist when deploying the tactical options:
Please also carry out your own reviews of security levels and some of you will have innovative and new ways of delivering protective security, which you may wish to share with other partners.
If you deploying such tactics and are willing to share them, please forward them to NaCTSO who will circulate them. Please contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucy D Orsi,
Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police
Security measures in place around Palace of Westminster after previous breaches
PUBLISHED: 16:58 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:20 22 March 2017
Armed police at the scene outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after policeman has been stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident at the Houses of Parliament . Date: Wednesday March 22, 2017 . Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Heavy security measures are in place around The Palace of Westminster in the wake of previous security breaches.
:: There are a number of entrances onto the parliamentary estate for staff and visitors but all are subject to security measures. :: Visitors can enter through the Cromwell Green entrance and through the main doors at Portcullis House . Both entrances have airport-style security.
:: There are a number of entrances for holders of parliamentary security passes, MPs, palace staff etc, which are required to gain access to any one of the entrances . Armed police are stationed at all of the main entrances. :: Armed police officers are always stationed on the Carriage Gates which is the main road entrance into Parliament . The entrance is always blocked by metal barricades and there are also car park-style barriers for vehicles on the way in and out of the palace. :: Armed police are stationed throughout the palace itself. :: Sniffer dogs are often seen on the parliamentary estate carrying out checks, including before major events such as Prime Minister s Questions.
:: Security incidents have occurred on the parliamentary estate over the years, most notably when Prime Minister s Questions was halted in May 2004. :: This occurred after Fathers 4 Justice campaigners threw condoms filled with purple flour and glitter at Tony Blair, although it initially sparked fears that the Commons was under biological attack. :: A glass screen was installed in the public gallery to prevent similar incidents.
:: An increased focus on the security of MPs emerged following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in her Batley and Spen constituency in June 2016.
:: A police hotline was set up for MPs to report threats made against them.
:: Figures released this week showed a specialist police team set up to investigate crimes against MPs, the Met s parliamentary liaison and investigation team, has probed more than 50 complaints in the six months of Mrs Cox s murder.
- Police officer stabbed and alleged assailant shot by police at terrorist incident at Houses of Parliament6