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Westminster security ‘must be stepped up’ after video reveals open gates

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.

No police1 officers are visible guarding the entry point, known as Carriage Gates, fuelling concern that the attack might have been worse had Masood been followed by accomplices.

Pedestrians are shown walking past and at one stage a courier on a moped appears to enter unchallenged.

Yards away, separate footage showed Prime Minister Theresa May2 being rushed from the building and into a waiting car.

Former Met Commissioner Ian, now Lord Blair and ex-House of Commons3 deputy speaker Nigel Evans both said security will now have to be stepped up.

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.”

The video comes after Scotland5 Yard’s anti-terror chief said current arrangements were “proportionate”.

On Friday, Mark Rowley told reporters that procedures for guarding Parliament6 had been designed so they were not “overly intrusive”.

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.

References

  1. ^ police (www.heraldscotland.com)
  2. ^ Theresa May (www.heraldscotland.com)
  3. ^ Commons (www.heraldscotland.com)
  4. ^ Downing Street (www.heraldscotland.com)
  5. ^ Scotland (www.heraldscotland.com)
  6. ^ Parliament (www.heraldscotland.com)

Security guard graduates from school he has watched over for nearly 20 years

A security guard who has spent nearly two decades keeping watch over students at a college in the Philippines1 was able to join their ranks today as a scholar celebrating his own graduation. Erwin Macua spent four years juggling his job as a guard at St Theresa s College in Cebu City with studying and being a father of three children. And today, the 38-year-old s efforts were rewarded, as he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Elementary Education degree.

Age is not a hindrance, poverty is not a hindrance, the scholar told ABS-CBN news.

Just pursue your dream with the formula: hard work plus determination plus prayer and you will reach your aspirations in life.

Despite working a long overnight shift from 7pm to 7am, Mr Macua maintained a full course load, attending classes from 7:30am to 4pm, Cebu Daily News reports. The security guard s name has also been on the college s Dean s list since his first year as a student in 2013. Mr Macua told ABS-CBN it had always been his dream to complete his studies and that he wanted to be a teacher because of his love of working with children.

Education is a good course to deal with students and you can really change their lives, he told the broadcaster.

The father used his own savings to fund his first year in college, but he says he was sponsored by an anonymous donor for the remainder of his school years.

Mr Macua has said he plans to continue his work watching over students at St Theresa s as he prepares for exams to earn a teaching licence.

References

  1. ^ Philippines (independent.co.uk)

Live updates: Westminster attack investigation

Fresh calls have been made for Westminster security to be ‘stepped up’ in the wake of Wednesday’s terror attack. Former Met Police commissioner Lord Blair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “there will have to be changes” following the attack and a review of the “outer soft ring” around the Houses of Parliament should be expected. Ex-House of Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans also added to the call for enhanced security after revealing “lots” of MPs locked in the Commons chamber during and after the attack were already discussing how to boost security in certain areas.