Mayor taking action to make London safer, now Government must step up
- Mayor confirms over two thirds of Harris terror review recommendations implemented - but urges government to stop ‘dragging its feet’ on key recommendations.
- Tough action taken includes officers deployed to deter terrorist activity, river security strengthened and Mayor’s role in COBRA clarified
- Sadiq Khan says government must take urgent action to properly fund our police and emergency services so they can keep Londoners safe.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (Wednesday 25th October) published an official update to the Lord Harris review into London’s preparedness to respond to the threat of terrorism. The update shows two thirds of his recommendations have been acted upon, but that government now needs to 'step up' and take urgent action on key outstanding recommendations, as well as properly fund our police and emergency services in order to keep Londoners safe.
The safety of Londoners is the Mayor’s first priority and he commissioned the independent, wide-ranging Lord Harris Review as one of his first acts in office. Since then London has been subject to four terrorist attacks at Westminster, London Bridge and Borough Market, Finsbury Park and on the London Underground at Parsons Green. A further seven plots in the last seven months have been successfully foiled, and the work to make London as prepared as possible continues apace.
The Mayor confirmed that City Hall, emergency services and the Met have acted swiftly to fulfil their recommendations, and significant improvements have been made to London's terror preparedness, including:
- The Met has implemented Project Servator, deploying officers across the capital to deter and detect criminal and terrorist activity, as well as to reassure the general public.
- The training capacity for armed officers has been reviewed.
- The role of the Mayor in COBRA has been clarified.
- A new group including the emergency services and local authorities will strengthen security on the River Thames.
- The Met will work with schools across London to promote terror preparedness
- MOPAC is working with partners to give some of London's key bridges permanent protection.
- The Met can now access live CCTV during incidents.
Many of the outstanding third of recommendations are underway. However, some of those directed at central government are not being taken forward, or not with the required urgency despite the Mayor’s repeated requests. The Mayor has stressed the importance of the Government putting Londoners' safety first and completing them as soon as possible, highlighting a number of vital recommendations that the Government has been 'dragging its feet on' and which MOPAC and his office are urgently challenging them over:
- Ministers have refused to fully fund the National and International Capital Cities Grant (NICC), which currently costs the Met £346 million each year. They only receive £174 million a year - £172 million short.
- DCLG has refused to ring fence local resilience team budgets and monitor their performance - potentially leaving local authorities unprepared for emergencies.
- The new CONTEST strategy has not been published by the Home Office.
- The Home Secretary has failed to sign off updated draft guidance from the IPCC on investigations into deaths following police contact.
- The Home Office has not yet confirmed funding for permanent barriers to protect ceremonial events in Westminster, such as Trooping the Colour.
- The Home Office has not agreed to provide extra funding for increased Counter Terrorism Security Advisers in London, as recommended by Lord Harris, to provide support in increasing the level of protective security across crowded places and public events.
- DCLG claim a statutory obligation for resilience to be designed into new buildings is not required.
- The Home Office has not taken forward Lord Harris’s recommendation of a compulsory system to assess the resilience of existing buildings.
- The Department of Health has not progressed in expanding city-wide leadership to implement NHS plans which make earlier access to mental health services a priority. Lord Harris recommending increasing community mental health services in London to support vulnerable people who might be at risk of radicalisation, and the Mayor has called for a greater role in oversight of the NHS’s future plans in the capital.
Lord Harris also stressed the importance of co-operation with the EU. These comments were reflected by the Mayor when he outlined his ‘six red lines’, which are crucial for continued cooperation on security and counter-terrorism with European partners, last week. These included the European Arrest Warrant and the Prüm Arrangements.
The Mayor is also clear that the good work achieved under his watch to make London safer can only be maintained if the government provides our police, fire and ambulance services with the funding they need to do their job. He has repeatedly warned about the potential impact of government cuts on police frontline numbers, and their ability to keep us safe. He also cites the example of Lord Harris’ recommendations for a co-responding pilot between the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service to be rolled out across London as quickly as possible. This pilot ended due to a nationwide failure in negotiations on firefighter pay, as a result of the lack of funds available from central Government to pay for any increase.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “In the face of a growing threat to London and other global cities, I am doing everything in my power to ensure our capital is as prepared as possible to respond to terrorism. Our police officers and emergency services do a fantastic job, working tirelessly every day to keep us safe. We have worked extremely hard together to deliver on the recommendations made by Lord Harris and to make London safer, whilst also coping with four barbaric terror attacks and the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower this year.
“We have implemented more than two thirds of Lord Harris’s recommendations, but there is still work to do. The Government needs to put Londoners' safety first: it must step up, stop dragging its feet and take urgent action on the remaining recommendations.
"They must also provide the proper funding our police and other emergency services need. I have made it clear time and time again that the Met’s budget is on a cliff-edge, and have done everything in my power to provide the police with extra funding. If the Government continues to ignore the stark facts, then all the great work we have achieved together to keep Londoners safe from terrorism could be put in jeopardy.”
Lord Toby Harris said: “I am pleased that so much work has been done by the Metropolitan Police and others in the GLA family to take action on the recommendations I made in my report. That work is essential, and that progress needs to be continued. However, it is also important that central government and other relevant organisations also work together to ensure that London’s preparedness to respond to a major terrorist incident continues to develop.”
Notes to editors
- The new formal update to the Harris review is published here – http://bit.ly/2gHqxER
- The Lord Harris review, published in October 2016, commended London’s emergency services for their improved major incident readiness, with responses now substantially faster and more effective than five years ago. The quality and effectiveness of the work done by the intelligence agencies and the counter-terrorist police here is, he said, amongst the best in the world. He went on to make 127 recommendations to help make London safer still. https://www.london.gov.uk/mopac-publications/londons-preparedness-respond-major-terrorist-incident
- COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) is the British Government’s emergency response committee set up to respond to a national or regional crisis. The COBRA Committee comes together in moments of perceived crisis under the chairmanship of either the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary.