The Daily Telegraph

MPs voiced fears over weak ‘Meccano’ gates

Committee raised issue of ‘flimsy’ barriers where Khalid Masood ran into Palace Yard to attack Pc

- By Steven Swinford, Christophe­r Hope and Laura Hughes

MPs warned last month that the weak security at Parliament’s gates could put police officers at risk. The Daily Telegraph understand­s police have raised repeated concerns about the security of the gate, which has been described as a “weak point”. The House of Commons administra­tion committee discussed the issue in February, with a particular focus on the “Meccano” crowd-control barriers.

MPs WARNED last month that security at Parliament’s main gates was so weak it could put police officers at risk.

Khalid Masood was able to run through Carriage Gates and into New Palace Yard where he stabbed Pc Keith Palmer to death on Wednesday.

The Daily Telegraph understand­s police have raised repeated concerns about the security of the gate, which has been described as a “weak point”.

In February the House of Commons administra­tion committee discussed the issue, with a particular focus on the “flimsy” and “Meccano” crowd-control barriers in front of the wrought-iron gates. The barriers have to be manually opened by police on the pavement outside Parliament, which MPs said put them at risk. The MPs called for them to be replaced with a stronger, automated gate which police could operate remotely.

There were also calls for stronger security measures on Westminste­r Bridge, where Masood injured 20 people and killed three after driving into them. It was previously recommende­d that bollards should be used on roads which are heavily used by pedestrian­s.

Lord Carlile, a cross-bench peer and former independen­t reviewer of terrorism legislatio­n, raised concerns about the fact Masood used a cyclelane as he ploughed into pedestrian­s.

He said: “We may have to look at the new traffic arrangemen­ts around Westminste­r, which have changed in the last few months and opened up a wide new cycle lane along which this vehicle travelled uninterrup­ted.”

MPs discussed the security concerns about Carriage Gates on Feb 6. The crowd control barrier was due to be replaced by the end of the year, but plans are now likely to be brought forward.

Sir Paul Beresford, the Tory MP and chairman of the administra­tion committee, said: “There were concerns about security issues in all sorts of ways. As far as I’m concerned the present gates are flimsy and made of Meccano. We wanted something that can be operated more easily by the police that will also stop pedestrian­s.

“At present two police officers have to open them out; they aren’t armed. Therefore they are at risk. You can just push past them.”

Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat MP and member of the committee, suggested that the gate should be closed off to vehicle access entirely.

He said: “My personal concerns about the Carriage Gates is that this is clearly the weakest link. It is a vulnerable point where MPs, peers and other staff can gain vehicular access to the palace in a way that could allow people to gain access on foot via that route.

“You may have to stop that being a vehicular access so all vehicles come through Black Rod’s entrance [at the House of Lords].”

One senior MP said: “One of the slight issues is that we have had car security suitable for terrorist incidents by the IRA. You need a double gate. It is awfully easy to climb over the top.”

A parliament­ary spokesman said: “Security of members, staff and the visiting public is our highest priority. For Parliament to fulfil its democratic function, it is crucial that it remains open and accessible to the public.

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of our security, we work closely with the police, security services and others to ensure that our security measures are effective and meet whatever level of security risk Parliament faces.

“As is good practice following any significan­t incident, the Houses in conjunctio­n with the police and other bodies will also be carrying out a review of security around this specific incident.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom