Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Second Clerk of the Committee from the Chairman of Policy and Resources Committee, Corporation of London (6 February 2002)

  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment on security and contingency planning post the tragic events of the 11 September.

  The Corporation of London, City of London Policy and the City business community consider effective security and contingency planning to be an essential part of their day to day business. The level of preparedness within the square mile is high and effective communication between partners to discuss the threat level and best practice is established, and we are always looking to improve our plans.

  The events of 11 September have made us reconsider our response to massive or multiple incidents and comments in this latter relate to these types of disaster.

  Massive or multiple incidents are best co-ordinated by the emergency services and local authority in the immediate area. They know and understand the community and local concerns, and history shows they are able to provide an effective response. If it is felt desirable to establish a further overlying authority, as has been suggested, it will be very important that the roles and responsibilities of each partner are clearly documented and understood if we are to avoid confusion and duplication.

  The local authorities and emergency services within London have clear role and responsibility guidelines contained within the London Emergency Services Liaison Panel Manual. Local authority meetings are regularly held to raise awareness of major incident issues and joint exercises are often organised. Following the responsibility for emergency planning moving to the Cabinet Office and the formation of the Civil Contingencies Committee is will be important to ensure that these organisations' roles and responsibilities are also clearly defined and do not hamper those that are already well tried and tested.

  During a protracted response to this type of incident it may be necessary to request the assistance of staff or equipment from other local authorities or suppliers to support us. Whilst most boroughs have local agreements, a database of available resources and a central co-ordinating organisation may be useful.

  Following the response to flooding last year a number of local authorities felt the method of claiming support finance was over-bureaucratic and slow. At these times of massive and personal disaster a more straightforward method of obtaining this finance would be beneficial to the community.

  London is currently looking at methods of mass evacuation in certain geographical areas. This requires very precise communication methods as does the message allowing the return of these evacuated. It may be useful if a protocol was established with local and national radio and television to ensure accurate messages were relayed in a manner which did not over dramatise the situation. This would also assist communication with those who have evacuated internally

  The utilities which supply the City of London have been helpful in attempting to secure their key infrastructure points and manhold provision against attacks from terrorists or demonstrators. Many City companies have contingency sites outside the City and it would be helpful if similar high levels of security were encouraged or demanded in other districts.

  Obviously prevention and/or deterrence is the best way to avoid the huge cost and stress of dealing with this type of incident. Regrettably the City of London has been the subject of two of the largest bombs to be detonated on mainland Britain in 1992 and 1993. Since that date the City of London Police have worked tirelessly to prevent a further attack, but they are hampered by the lack of finance and consequently the reduced number of officers available to patrol. Increases in police funding may enable more officers to be employed to patrol the City and prevent the huge cost and personal tragedy of dealing with the aftermath of another terrorist attack.

  Following the Provisional IRA bombs in the City of London in 1992 and 1993 the Corporation of London established a Security and Contingency Planning Group which brought together the skills of security, business continuity and emergency planning. The Group, whilst advising the Corporation, also works closely with the Business City to ensure they are aware of the threat and providing their own effective business continuity.

  The Group also provides a conduit between the Business City and the Emergency Services to ensure a greater awareness of each others roles, responsibilities and concerns following a major incident. Joint exercises are also arranged which has ensured a high level of awareness and preparedness in the square mile.

  Since 1993 we have established greater communication in the City around contingency planning. This has also assisted in communicating the progress of animal rights and anti-capitalist type demonstrations. Our advanced warning pager system is now used by over 1,500 companies and our security e-mail system covers over 2,000 people.

  Regular meetings are now taking place with the Bank of England, Financial Services Authority and the Treasury with the aim of providing specific information to the financial sector.

  The Corporation also organises regular meetings of the `City Emergency Liaison Team'. This includes representatives of the business community, utilities, transport, emergency services and the Bank of England. It meets each quarter, or more often at times of greater threat, to discuss contingency planning issues and concerns. The meetings are well attended and provide valuable information to all who attend.

  Since the demonstration in the City in June 1998 we have been encouraging providers who use fibre-optic cabling to ensure their service access manholes are secure from attack by demonstrators and that they have effective business continuity plans. As you are aware, fibre optic cabling supplies essential computer connections enabling City businesses to function. Cabling companies have responded superbly and provided double locking to all their manholes.

  Many areas of contingency planning are currently being developed, but I have limited my response to strategic issues which could be developed at a national level. I hope the information provided is clear and useful. If I can assist further place do not hesitate to contact me.

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