Mayor appoints Lord Harris to lead full terror preparedness review

27 May 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (Friday) appointed Lord Toby Harris of Haringey to undertake a full and independent review to ensure London is as prepared as possible to respond to a major terrorist incident.

Lord Harris has a long and distinguished career overseeing counter-terrorism and security both in London and at a national level. He will investigate the capability, capacity and collaboration arrangements of every London agency with a part to play in protecting Londoners. He will assess their ability to cope with multiple simultaneous incidents and report in the summer on what more could be done to ensure Londoners are kept safe.

Following the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, this London-wide strategic review was one of the Mayor’s key manifesto promises. The review will involve:

  • The Metropolitan police, including its armed response capacity
  • Other police services operating in London, including the British Transport Police and City of London Police
  • The London Fire Brigade
  • The London Ambulance Service
  • Local government
  • Transport for London
  • The Port of London Authority

Today, the Mayor joined British Transport Police officers at Liverpool Street Station in a routine Project Servator deployment to deter, detect and disrupt a wide range of criminal activity on the rail network while providing a reassuring presence for the travelling public.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe. As a father of two daughters, I worry about my family going about our city just as I worry about all Londoners.

“I want to be reassured that every single agency and individual involved in protecting our city has the resources and expertise they need to respond in the event that London is attacked.

“I am delighted that Toby Harris has agreed to undertake this review, and look forward to his findings so we can ensure every step is taken to mitigate any weaknesses and that we are as prepared as possible.”

Lord Harris brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this critical role. He was a London Assembly Member from 2000-2004 and the first Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority. Until 2012, he oversaw the Met’s national counter-terror strategy on behalf of the Home Office and is a member of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy

Lord Toby Harris said: “I know how much the emergency services and all the other agencies do day-to-day to keep Londoners safe. However, given the developing threat picture, it is timely to see whether more is needed and whether the existing arrangements can be made even more robust.

“This review is intended to be thorough and wide-ranging, so as to provide the Mayor with advice on any action that needs to be taken."

Chief Superintendent Martin Fry, British Transport Police Commander of B division (London and South East), said: "Our officers work every day to maintain a safe environment for the millions of people travelling and working on the rail and tube network in London.

“This includes running operations such as Project Servator, to deter and detect criminal activity in the capital’s stations. These officers could turn up at any station and at any time, and include both uniformed and plain clothed officers, alongside other assets such as police dogs.

“We will continue to work alongside our partners to keep the travelling public safe and look forward to contributing towards this review."

In his first week as Mayor, Sadiq Khan met with the Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and joined Met firearms officers in training, to discuss London’s ability to deal with major terrorist incidents.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said: "We welcome the Mayor's appointment of Lord Harris to lead this review and are looking forward to demonstrating how the Met has been developing its own response and working closely with partners to ensure London's resilience is continually evolving and improving.

“Although we are confident that the Met can deal effectively if terrorists did target our city, and we test ourselves regularly, we are never complacent about the city's security and recognise that there will always be ways in which we can improve and that partners can work more effectively with each other. An overarching review such as this can only help make London more secure."

Notes to editors

  1. Lord Harris is a former London Borough Council Leader, and was chairman of the Association of London Government. He was a member of the London Assembly from 2000 to 2004 and was the first Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority.  From 2004 to 2012 he was the Home Secretary’s representative overseeing the national counter-terrorism and security role of the Metropolitan Police. He has been a Life Peer since 1998 and is a member of the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy.  He recently undertook a review of deaths of young people in custody for the Ministry of Justice.
  2. Project Servator deployments are unpredictable and highly visible. They are designed to deter, detect and disrupt a range of criminal activity, from pickpocketing and theft to terrorism. They involve uniformed and plain clothed officers together with other specially-trained officers. They are supported by other resources, such as police dogs and a network of CCTV cameras. Officers will turn up unannounced at railway stations to carry out patrols. They will be unpredictable, so they could happen at any time, last for different amounts of time and involve varying numbers of officers and assets.