18th Dec 2001, 20:31
Armed Police Not Needed at LCY: Sir John Stevens
From PA News:
Armed Police Not Needed at City Airport - Police Chief
By David Barrett and Nick Allen, PA News
A London airport which is just three miles from Britain’s tallest building has no armed police on patrol, it was revealed today.
A firearms officer who works near London City Airport, which is in the capital’s East End Docklands, expressed his “astonishment” that an airport in such an important location had no armed cover.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens responded that its complement of eight unarmed officers was enough and suggested the local armed response vehicle would provide an adequate response.
Pc Vincent O’Shea, of the Belmarsh Armed Team, wrote in the Met’s fortnightly staff newspaper: “After all the activity of the last weeks I find it strange, no astonishing, that there are still no armed officers patrolling London City Airport. Why is this?”
The Met stepped up security in the capital after the September 11 atrocities, with up to an extra 1,500 officers on the streets each day, and have received an extra £22 million from the Home Office for anti-terrorism cover.
Professor Paul Wilkinson, director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrew’s, expressed surprise that there are were no armed officers on patrol and said it was a “grave anomaly given the present high state of threat”.
“It seems odd to deploy officers on a standing basis without arming them, given the present circumstances,” said Prof Wilkinson.
“City Airport is small but its strategic location is one I thought would merit attention, as it is close to a number of very important buildings.
“It’s somehow not in keeping with the reassurances that are being given that there is a high level of preparedness.
“If there are no armed officers deployed there, it seems a rather grave anomaly given the present high state of threat.”
London City Airport offers flights to 20 cities and seven domestic destinations.
It is three miles from Canary Wharf, including the famous 777 foot high Canada Square tower, one and a half miles from the Millennium Dome and five miles from the City.
The historic buildings of Greenwich are less than three miles away, and it is only 10 miles to the West End.
The airport was briefly closed to all flights in the immediate aftermath of September 11.
Commissioner Sir John Stevens said security at the airport – which handled 134,000 passengers last month – was based on a thorough assessment.
“The post-September 11 policing for London City Airport is one sergeant and seven constables,” he said.
“The officers patrol the terminal building and the outer areas of the airport.
“The risk assessment for policing the airport took into account the general intelligence about terrorist activity and a specific intelligence report in respect of London City Airport provided by Special Branch.
“The police response has been based on these assessments.
“Should an armed response be required at London City Airport then SO19 armed response vehicles are able to provide a well-trained and rapid response to aid their borough colleagues.”