Former London Assembly member and police authority chair Lord Toby Harris has been appointed to undertake “a full and independent review” into London’s preparedness to respond to a major terrorist incident.
The Labour Peer served on the Assembly between May 2000 and June 2004 and during the same period served as Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the capital’s first policing watchdog.
Following his defeat at the 2004 election Lord Harris was appointed as the Home Secretary’s representative on MPA, a role in which he had responsibility for overseeing the Met’s counter terrorism and security work until the MPA’s abolition in 2012.
His review will deliver on a manifesto pledge by Mayor Sadiq Khan to ensure London’s blue light services and other key agencies have the resources and skills needed to keep Londoners safe.
City Hall says the review will cover:
- The Metropolitan police, including its armed response capacity
- Other police services operating in London, including the British Transport Police and City of London Police
- The London Fire Brigade
- The London Ambulance Service
- Local government
- Transport for London
- The Port of London Authority
Announcing the appointment, Mayor Khan said: “Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe. As a father of two daughters, I worry about my family going about our city just as I worry about all Londoners.
“I want to be reassured that every single agency and individual involved in protecting our city has the resources and expertise they need to respond in the event that London is attacked.
“I am delighted that Toby Harris has agreed to undertake this review, and look forward to his findings so we can ensure every step is taken to mitigate any weaknesses and that we are as prepared as possible.”
Lord Toby Harris said London’s emergency services already work hard to keep Londoners safe but said “the developing threat picture” meant it was now “timely” to see where and whether improvements could be make.
He added: “This review is intended to be thorough and wide-ranging, so as to provide the Mayor with advice on any action that needs to be taken.”
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the force welcomed Lord Harris’s appointment and “are looking forward to demonstrating how the Met has been developing its own response and working closely with partners to ensure London’s resilience is continually evolving and improving.”
Sir Bernard added: “Although we are confident that the Met can deal effectively if terrorists did target our city, and we test ourselves regularly, we are never complacent about the city’s security and recognise that there will always be ways in which we can improve and that partners can work more effectively with each other.
“An overarching review such as this can only help make London more secure.”