Terror review suggests London police forces should merge

Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) officers during a Marauding Terrorist Firearms Attack Training exercise Image copyright PA
Image caption The review makes a total of 127 recommendations

A major review of London's ability to deal with a terror attack has suggested the three police forces serving the capital could be merged.

Lord Harris of Haringey said the Home Office should consider combining the Met Police, the City of London Police and the British Transport Police (BTP).

The review was ordered by mayor Sadiq Khan to assess London's security.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said there was "good argument" for a merger, but others had concerns.

Saying the current set-up was "confusing" and the move would save money, Sir Bernard added: "We should get improved operational effectiveness and that's what this report is talking about: how to respond to a terrorist incident - would we respond better together? And I think we would."

But the City of London Police said the paper itself had noted that merging forces would cause "significant disruption".

In his review Lord Harris, a security adviser who chaired the Metropolitan Police Authority, concluded that any response to a terror attack would now be "substantially faster and more effective" than five years ago.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The mayor announced the review with Lord Harris at Liverpool Street station in May

But, he said, even though the intelligence agencies and the counter-terrorist police operating in London were among the best in the world, the city should be prepared for an attack with multiple fatalities.

The review also found that, once the Met had completed its recruitment of 600 extra firearms officers, there would be no need for a further increase.

To do so "would be at the cost of transforming the look and feel of our capital city", it said.

A total of 127 recommendations were made in the paper.

Recommendations included in the review

Image copyright AFP
  • A London-wide pilot of technology where all phones are sent a message alerting of a major attack
  • Increasing the number of firearms instructors so marksmen can be trained quicker
  • A comprehensive review of safety and security on the River Thames, commissioned by the mayor, to report by May 2017
  • A review of perimeter security at London City Airport - flights were disrupted last month after protesters gained access to the runway
  • The capacity of London's major trauma centres should be reviewed
  • Bolster mental health services to support those at risk of radicalisation.
  • Security guards and bouncers should be trained to help prepare against an attack
  • There should be four dedicated 24/7 Hazardous Area Response Teams and a similar number of Mass Casualty Vehicles strategically located around London
  • All London schools to have a plan for how to prepare for a terrorist attack

Lord Harris also said live CCTV streaming should be extended across London.

Earlier this year Mr Khan intervened after Westminster Council announced it would turn off its fixed CCTV cameras to save money.

City of London Police said it welcomed the review but warned against merging it with the Met.

"As the report clearly states, policing in London needs stability and certainty, not upheaval and disruption," they said.

The BTP's Paul Crowther welcomed the report but said: "Over the past eight years, there have been a number of studies that have examined the rationale and effectiveness of a dedicated transport police force.

"Each study has unequivocally concluded that there is a need for a specialist national force, which can provide 'end to end' policing and an understanding of this complex environment."

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