Lord Harris launches report on improving London’s terror preparedness

28 October 2016

Lord Toby Harris has today launched his significant and wide-ranging independent report into what could be done to improve London’s resources and readiness to respond to a major terrorist incident.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, appointed Lord Toby Harris of Haringey to undertake this independent London-wide strategic review in his first weeks in office, following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, which were followed by an attack in Nice.

Just last week, the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and emergency services expertly dealt with a potential threat on a tube train at North Greenwich, a stark reminder that the threat level in London remains at severe which means an attack is highly likely.

The Lord Harris review commends 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 says, amongst the best in the world.

Lord Harris goes on to make 127 recommendations for the Mayor, the Government and other agencies to consider, including:

  • The Metropolitan Police to further explore the use of temporary barriers to protect against a Nice style attack in London.
  • A London-wide pilot of a new public alert technology – so Londoners can be advised of a major terrorist attack with messages sent direct to mobile devices.
  • CCTV to be installed on all underground and mainline trains and more easily accessible to emergency services in an emergency.
  • COBR protocol to be changed so that the Mayor always attends meetings that affect London – with greater clarity around the role of the Mayor in a major incident.
  • Consideration to be given to the introduction of a new MOPAC adviser on counter-terrorism, and Mayoral Adviser for Resilience.
  • The Home Office to fully fund the National and International Capital Cities Grant (NICC), which currently costs the Metropolitan Police approximately £340 million a year.
  • Security measure on the river Thames to be strengthened.
  • The police and security services should work with businesses, local authorities and others to provide better information on how to prevent a terrorist attack, and what to do if the worst happens.
  • The Department of Health should provide extra resources to the London Ambulance Service in recognition of the additional demands placed on them as the provider of services in the capital. 

Lord Toby Harris says he would not at present recommend any further increase in the number of armed officers beyond the current planned uplift, of 600, given the resources available and the essential need to preserve our model of policing by consent.

Lord Toby Harris said: “The quality and effectiveness of the work done by the intelligence services and the counter-terrorist police is amongst the best in the world, and if London were subject to a terrorist attack today, our emergency services response would be substantially faster than five years ago. Nevertheless, a serious terrorist attack remains highly possible and we cannot be complacent. London needs to become a city where security and resilience is designed in and is part of the city’s fabric, and where everyone who lives and works here sees security and resilience as their responsibility just as much as it is for the emergency services and civic authorities.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am extremely grateful to Lord Toby Harris who has produced a significant, in-depth piece of work. His findings and events in the last week remind us what a fantastic job our police officers and emergency services do every day to keep us safe. But there is more that can be done by a wide range of organisations, and Lord Harris’s many recommendations deserve careful consideration and exploration over the coming months so we can take steps to ensure we are as prepared as possible.”

A formal response to the Lord Harris Review will be published in due course.


Notes to editors

  • To view the full report, please visit: https://www.london.gov.uk/mopac-publications/londons-preparedness-respond-major-terrorist-incident
  • 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.



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