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Britain’s top anti-terror cop: MPs to face more intrusive security at Parliament

Britain’s top anti-terror cop today signalled MPs may have to put up with more intrusive security at Parliament to protect it in future. Scotland Yard s anti-terror chief Mark Rowley stressed that a review following the terror attack1 would probe whether a different tone or balance was needed for security at Westminster.

Our current arrangements have been developed with Parliament over many years and are designed to provide access to the seat of our Government balanced with security that is proportionate but not overly intrusive, he said.

As would be expected, my team will work with Parliamentary authorities to assess whether a different tone or a different balance is necessary. Police at the scene after the attack (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

He spoke out as calls grew for more armed officers to be deployed at key points around the estate.

Senior Tory MP Nigel Evans said: If the tragic death of Keith Palmer points us to any action that we need to take it is if we are going to have unarmed police officers on the frontline, we need to ensure that within inches of them there are armed police officers behind them. Forensic investigators at the scene of the attack (Jeremy Selwyn)

The attacker, Khalid Masood, 52, is understood to have been shot dead by two officers from Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon s personal protection team who were waiting for him in his official car as he went to vote in the Commons. This has raised concerns among MPs over the speed of response of other armed officers.

However, Ken Marsh, chairman of the London Police Federation, said: If these two were not there, there would still have been armed officers there in seconds. It emerged today that Masood burst through Parliament s main carriage gates while they were open for a car carrying Acting Met Commissioner Craig Mackey to leave the estate . Mr Mackey was driven off quickly.

Police officers have long complained the solid iron Victorian gates are too heavy to open and close constantly, despite modifications, for cars to come and go, which may explain why they were not shut instantly. Meanwhile, amateur footage captured the apparent confusion of the moments after the attack when Theresa May was walking through a Commons courtyard flanked by protection officers. After shouts of Get in the car , the Prime Minister began to walk one way before veering back to the nearest car .

A member of the security detail is heard shouting for his car keys, in the video published by the Sun. The security review will also inevitably focus on the vetting of the thousands of people with passes to access the parliamentary estate. More than 1,200 passes have been lost over the last seven years, including 280 belonging to MPs, which once reported are blocked from use.

Hundreds of people on social media backed calls by MP James Cleverly, who served in the army with Pc Palmer, for him to be post-humously honoured, with the George Medal or another award.

Meanwhile, former Culture Secretary and ex-London Minister Dame Tessa Jowell said: There should be a lasting memorial to those who died and to the emergency staff who, like PC Keith Palmer, showed such courage.

References

  1. ^ following the terror attack (www.standard.co.uk)