Jane Embury on a new London review
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has commissioned a new report into the city’s preparedness for a terrorist incident.
Lord Toby Harris has been appointed to write the independent review and report. It is expected to be completed by the of this year.
He chairs the National Preparedness Commission and, among other roles, was the first Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority.
The review will consider the changing threat of terrorism and implications from the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Covid-19, we recently drew attention to a report from Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency. It said that mental health is an important issue in relation to terrorism and violent extremism.
It believes that, in addition to already-radicalised Islamists, Covid-19 will have been another stress factor for potentially vulnerable individuals.
Europol notes that, in 2020, there were 57 completed, failed and foiled terrorist attacks in the European Union, all committed by lone wolf perpetrators.
Lord Harris is no stranger to issues of terrorism. In 2016, he published his Preparedness Review, also commissioned by the Mayor.
The Harris Review made more than 100 recommendations, the majority of which have now been implemented.
Then, terrorism was shaped by firearms attacks in Paris, Brussels and Nice. Since then, we’ve seen knives and motor vehicles used for terrorism in the UK.
Worst was the bomb attack in the Manchester Arena in 2017 which killed 23 people. It injured over 1,000 others.
However, the nature of terror evolves. For example, the Salisbury chemical attack which brought a new dimension to the terrorist threat.
If the pandemic has helped to radicalise vulnerable individuals, Taliban victories in Afghanistan may suggest to them that violence does work.
As Europol makes clear, disaffected Muslims have felt under attack from the far-right and from, for example, the republication of cartoons of the Prophet.
London remains the obvious target as the centre of political and economic power. Not forgetting the myriad TV cameras and media outlets based there.
The new review is intended to see what can be learned from the past five years, and ensure that London is as well prepared as it can be to meet any terrorist threat.
It comes as the findings of both the Manchester Arena Inquiry and the Fishmongers’ Hall Inquests are also due to be published.
Because, as we start to build back better, it’s worth remembering that Home Secretary Priti Pastel has said that “terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our national security.”
And the UK’s threat level remains at “substantial” which means that an attack on the UK is likely.
Our role at Wrightstyle is to supply advanced glazing systems that can withstand the detonation of a lorry bomb.
Given the continuing terrorist threat, Lord Harris’ report will be a welcome addition to the safety of the city.
It will also help to inform police services and other agencies nationwide on how best to prevent attacks, and how to respond to them.
Government or high-value buildings will remain targets. Our advanced systems ensure that the occupants of those buildings will remain safe in the event of an explosive attack.
Because the fact is that, as we emerge into a new normal, there are some old threats that haven’t gone away.
Jane Embury is a director of Wrightstyle.