Pool Re highlights public transport sector vulnerabilities

The public transport sector remains an attractive target for terrorists because of the high concentration of potential victims and the low complexity of planning required to cause mass terror, according to Pool Re.

The observations were made as part of the first in a new series of sector risk reports.

Among its findings, the report notes that due to the reduction in lockdown restrictions, increasing passenger numbers herald the return of crowds and the potential for an attack.

Counter-terrorism police have also made a number of warnings of the increasing threat of self-radicalisation during lockdown and the return of crowded spaces may present a target which has not been present for over a year.

Additionally, a terrorist attack against the public transport infrastructure could have a short-term impact on local economies and public confidence, which could be particularly damaging as the economy begins to recover post-Covid-19.

As part of its commitment to improve the UK’s resilience to terrorism, Pool Re urged policymakers to consider public awareness campaigns, as well as to review and update contingency plans, to mitigate the evolving risk from terrorist attacks on public transport infrastructure.

Ed Butler, Chief Resilience Officer, said: “Whilst the threat from an attack remains substantial, we know that better understanding leads to better preparation. We believe this report will be of significant value to those who manage or operate in the public transport sector including risk managers, security personnel and those organisations and advisors to them.

“Our SOLUTIONS division is dedicated to helping organisations and businesses reduce vulnerability, risk and susceptibility. Our priority is to increase resistance and resilience to terrorism. We provide organisations the means to support them to identify vulnerabilities and implement mitigation strategies, before, during, and after a crisis, using a bespoke blend of intelligence, tools and techniques.”

The report follows the news that armed police carrying sub machine guns have started patrolling the streets of the City of London as the UK eases its lockdown restrictions.

Two patrol teams were circulating around ‘The Gherkin’ building last week as City workers returned to eat and drink at outside tables, taking advantage of the latest relaxations with regard to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The move represents an escalation in the police’s visible armed response to the perceived terrorist threat and is likely to become a common site in parts of the capital as the authorities step up their counter-terror efforts.

This summer armed counter-terrorism police will also board London buses and patrol bus stops and stations as part of a team dedicated to thwarting terrorist attacks in the capital.

The Met police has confirmed the new team will be backed by armed officers and will also patrol transport interchanges and carry out regular vehicle checks in key locations across the city.

The officers, part of the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command (RTPC), will also use sniffer dogs and number plate recognition during patrols while some officers will be stationed in CCTV control rooms to monitor the city.