Terror on the Thames? No, just a drill
Emergency services, including armed police, take part in a drill in London simulating the rescue of hostages from a Thames boat
More than 200 armed police have practised their response to a terrorist attack on a Thames pleasure boat in the first drill of its kind on the river.
A sightseeing ship became the scene of a fierce mock gun battle between armed officers and police posing as terrorists shortly after 11am yesterday.
The exercise, close to the London Docklands area, was the first time the Metropolitan police have staged a live, waterborne exercise such as this. Armed officers boarded the ship in a hail of “gunfire” just over two hours after five officers posing as armed terrorists hijacked the vessel.
The Met, the Port of London Authority, London coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, London ambulance service and London fire brigade took part in the exercise, aimed at testing emergency rescue tactics in lifelike conditions. The drill was designed to test every phase from the moment an incident is reported to the conclusion of a rescue operation.
Commander BJ Harrington, head of the Met’s public order command, said the exercise was not in response to any specific intelligence about an impending attack. But he noted that recent terrorist incidents in the rest of Europe showed how would-be attackers have found varied ways to inflict harm.
The exercise comes two weeks after the Met’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, revealed that security services have thwarted 13 potential terrorist attacks in the UK in less than four years. The official threat level for international terrorism in the UK has been at severe – meaning an attack is highly likely – for more than two years.
Yesterday’s multi-agency exercise on the Thames, the first of its kind, included the throwing overboard of a dummy representing a body (below)