As the dreadful details become clearer, it is uncomfortable hearing how officials predicted the attack; how it was a matter of “when” and not “if.” Only days before, security services are also shown practising for such an event. Parliament, we can all agree, was such an obvious “magnetic” target.
But logically, the next question comes into your head, if it was so predictable, why were armed officers not posted on the actual gates to Parliament (rather than away from the gates as appears to have been the case)? Were officers provided with protective equipment and required to wear stab vests? The attacker was only stopped after the entrance by a Minister’s armed bodyguard who happened to be there: that merely appears to be good fortune.
The reason for raising the issue is that we all take for granted that appropriate security provision is in place when that may not actually be the case. As you are travelling, sometimes you explore in your mind “what would happen, if….” Flying from one UK airport recently, I raised certain security concerns as to why I felt it was vulnerable, only to be told that it met CAA requirements. But I genuinely didn’t think these were enough, and if it occurs to me, presumably it’s going to occur to someone that does have harmful intentions.
If, despite all the warnings & predictions, Parliament is vulnerable to a single individual with knives, perhaps an urgent security review is needed of all our obvious sites? The argument is raised that we need to make sure that Parliament remains accessible to the public, but it still can be even with improved security.
A duty of care is also owed to those in the front line (such as officers at the Parliamentary gates) who are the first to confront such attacks; attacks that we are repeatedly told, have long been predicted. It would be interesting to learn what the drill was meant to be for these poor unarmed officers when confronting the “inevitable” terror attack on such a prime target.
If The Sunday Times is correct (26th March, 2017) that 2 months ago security on the Parliamentary gates was downgraded with static armed guards on the gates being removed, then the officials, advisers & agencies involved in that decision, need to be held to account; not as a matter of hindsight, but because it seems that they have played “Russian Roulette” with the lives of the unarmed officers left on the Parliamentary gates.
The Inquest that has started in September, 2018 has now begun to explore some of the issues raised above. Hopefully we all will hear some credible explanation for what currently appears to be gross negligence in not having at least one armed guard on the gates, or at the very least, just inside.