London Mayor Khan Starts Review of Capital’s Terror Preparedness

  • U.K.-wide terrorism threat level is rated at ‘severe’
  • Former police chairman Toby Harris to report in the summer

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he plans to hold a review into preparedness for a terrorist attack in the U.K. capital.

Khan appointed Toby Harris, a member of the House of Lords and former member of the Police Counter Terrorism Board, to head the review, which will assess the ability of London’s agencies and authorities to cope with “multiple simultaneous incidents,” the mayor’s office said Friday in an e-mailed statement. Harris is due to report his findings in the summer.

“Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe,” Khan said. “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.”

Cities across Europe have braced for possible terrorist attacks after Brussels was hit by three bombings that killed more than 30 people in March, just four months after gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in Paris. London itself hasn’t had a mass-casualty terrorism incident since July 7, 2005, when four suicide bombers attacked the capital’s transport system, killing 52 people. Even so, the U.K.’s terrorism threat level is at “severe,” the second-highest rating, meaning an attack is deemed “highly likely.”

‘Developing Threat’

“I know how much the emergency services and all the other agencies do day-to-day to keep Londoners safe,” said Harris, a member of Parliament’s National Security Strategy Committee and a past chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority. “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.”

Harris’s review will look at the capital’s Metropolitan Police, including its armed response capacity, as well as the British Transport Police and City of London Police. It will also examine the capabilities of the fire brigade, ambulance service, local government authorities, the Port of London Authority and Transport for London, which runs the capital’s trains, subway and buses.

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