Incident — Westminster Bridge / Houses of Parliament— Wednesday 22nd March 2017
Estimated reading time 6 minutes.
At lunchtime yesterday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi, Senior National Coordinator Protect and Prepare, spoke to Industry Sector Leads on a Cross Sector Safety and Security Communications Bridge Call. Please find below a copy of what she said to businesses.
I would like to brief you regarding the tragic circumstances of the incident on Westminster Bridge and at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday.
To quote Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley “We prepare for it but never expect to have to do it”. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of those killed and injured.
You will be aware that On 22 March 2017, at approximately 1440hrs a vehicle drove into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. The suspect then left the vehicle and proceeded to stab a police officer multiple times near to the Palace of Westminster. The suspect was then shot dead by a responding police officer.
Four people have been confirmed dead (one police officer, Keith Palmer, the suspect and two members of the public). There are twenty-nine other casualties (including a further three police officers), seven remain in a critical condition.
This is an ongoing police investigation being led by MPS Counter Terrorism Command. I can confirm, during the night, we have searched six addresses – and made seven arrests. The inquiries in Birmingham, London and other parts of the country continue.
It is still our belief – which continues to be born out by our investigation – that this attacker acted alone on Wednesday and was inspired by international terrorism.
At this stage, we have no specific information about further threats to the public. Clearly our investigation is ongoing – developing all the time – and is focused on his motivation, his preparation and associates.
Police and partners are doing everything possible to protect the public.
We are reviewing the policing and security around events and crowded places over the following fortnight.
Specialist teams, well-rehearsed at dealing with major incidents, continue to provide a strong visible presence throughout the capital and across the UK.
The large and complicated crime scene remains in place and our work there continues – I would like to thank everyone for their support and patience as we finish this work. We will endeavour to reduce the size of police cordons as quickly as our investigation allows.
As a precautionary measure we have increased the number of officers on duty to provide a highly visible, reassurance presence (both armed and unarmed) across the country for as long as is needed.
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;
We urge the public to remain alert but not alarmed. The Police Service and our partners are doing everything we can to help protect people, public institutions, critical national infrastructure, and businesses and crowded places.
Our security measures and activities are under constant review to reflect where the threats exist and the level of threat we are facing. You will have already noticed a substantial uplift in police patrolling, particularly in the central London area. This is being replicated across the country and will continue as we seek to reassure the public and respond to this attack.
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 sector is joined up. To ensure that we are joined up, 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’.
The attack incorporated multiple methodologies – as such no one security element will wholly mitigate such attacks. We also understand that you have differing priorities, some of your ISL members being responsible for large iconic sites and others for small businesses, but the message remains the same to you all – effective security and effective communities defeat terrorism.
We know that terrorists will undertake hostile reconnaissance ahead of conducting an attack and increased vigilance by staff and the creation of a hostile environment combats such hostile reconnaissance. You should refresh the knowledge of staff that have received Project Griffin and Argus training and deploy staff who have received training in behavioural detection (where you have them).
Staff should be encouraged to be proactive in challenging visitors, vehicles, and anything out of place.
You should also consider the following options from our ‘Stakeholder Menu of Options’, particularly around crowded place, night-time economy, and iconic sites:
D Review patrol strategy (be unpredictable). Adopt high visibility clothing.
E Brigade resources with neighbouring contracts/buildings
F Report any suspicious activity in a timely manner. Early reporting of suspected hostile reconnaissance is vital in combating terrorism.
G Implement communication links with surrounding premises to pass on information about suspicious activity/behaviour.
H Consider closing non-essential access and egress points.
I Focus CCTV on all communal areas and vulnerable points.
J Ensure CCTV is fit for purpose.
This is not an exclusive list and I recommend you look at the full menu (see the NACTSO website below) and consider any other options that suit your premises or organisation.
You should also 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;
You will also be carrying 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
We are also engaging extensively with communities, as we always do and have an extensive and well rehearsed plan to work with communities at this time. Today a meeting of faith leaders was held here at New Scotland Yard. Our community message will be circulated to CSSC after this call and I would urge you to pass that messaging on as appropriate.
We do recognise that, at times like this, there can be a rise in hate crime and we are keen to reassure all communities.
I want to thank the public for their support and all their good wishes – I know it is appreciated by all those men and women who are out there today protecting us.
I wish to reiterate that the UK national threat level remains at SEVERE: An attack is highly likely.