London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [10]

Session date: 
July 20, 2005
Question By: 
Roger Evans
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Something else which has been raised to me by a number of people since the bombings is that this is a good reason to return conductors and guards to the Tube system, to provide extra sets of eyes. I have to say I feel that would be prohibitively expensive, but do you have plans, for instance, to increase the powers that our ticket inspectors have, so that they could require people to show them what is inside their bags, for example?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [10]

Answer for London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [10]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

If, say, there had been a guard on the Tube trains concerned and a conductor on the bus, it would have made no difference. The terrorists got on with their bags, looking like any other young person on holiday or on their way to work with a bulky pack. They sat there with them. Whether they knew they were timed to go off when they did or whether they were conscious suicide bombers or whether they were used themselves, there was nothing to pick them out from hundreds of thousands of other people, looking the same and carrying bulky luggage with them, so it would have made no difference whatsoever.

You are right - the cost is prohibitively expensive. We think, in terms of restoring bus conductors, we would be looking to employ 20,000 extra staff. Even if we only paid them, say, £18,000 a year with on costs, you would be talking about several pounds per week on council tax on band D, so it is prohibitively expensive. It would actually be better if we got resources, poured them into more police, who have the powers, and then move around to wherever the latest danger is.

Clearly, there is a lot of talk about technology that is so advanced it would be of use. I have to say that this technology is always just about to appear, a bit like about our geo positional satellite technology that, one day, will replace the rather cruder Congestion Charge. Every year, it slips back a year and its expected delivery date some time about 10 years hence. It might simply be more use of sniffer dogs; it would just be another barrier over which the terrorist has to plan to get. You only have to think in terms of imagining a sort of system like we have at the airports, where your baggage goes through an x ray machine. You would need to factor in another half hour on your journey time to and from work each day. I think we have about 15 stations where there is not enough space to put the Metro container for the free giveaway paper. Let us take West Hampstead Tube, where every day there is a queue of people out onto the pavement in the rush hour. It just is not physically going to be possible. If we can come up with a sniffer technology that would trigger an alert as people walked by, this would be ideal, but I do not think we are about to have that.