A man in his late 20s has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences and has been taken to a south London police station where he remains in custody after a silver Ford Fiesta crashed into security barriers outside the Houses of Parliament at 7.37 on Tuesday August 14. The vehicle collided with cyclists and pedestrians before hitting the barrier.
“Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident and the investigation is being led by officers from the Counter Terrorism Command.” said Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu. “Officers are searching the vehicle and no other weapons have been found at this time. At this early stage of the investigation, no other suspects at the scene have been identified or reported to police. There is no intelligence of further danger to Londoners or the rest of the UK in connection with this incident. Our priority is to formally identify the suspect and establish his motivations if we can. He is not currently co-operating. However, as you would expect, detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command are making various other urgent enquiries to ensure there is no outstanding risk to the public.”
Eyewitness reports suggest that the small hatchback car was driven first into a group of cyclists and then into the barrier outside the Palace of Westminster. The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that a number of pedestrians were injured but that none were believed to be in a life-threatening condition.
“Two people have been taken to hospital. One man has been discharged and one woman remains in hospital being treated for serious but thankfully, non-life threatening injuries,’ confirmed Basu. “Another man was also treated at the scene but didn’t require hospital treatment.”
Officers remain at the scene and there is a cordon in place to assist with the investigation with streets around Millbank, Parliament Square and Victoria Tower Gardens closed off while Westminster Tube station has been closed.
“We are treating the scene and Parliament Square as a crime scene,” confirmed Basu. “Cordons are likely to be in place for some time as the investigation team continues to carry out its important work to establish what happened. I appreciate that this has caused a great deal of disruption to those who may live, work or be visiting the area, and I thank the public for their patience and understanding whilst we deal with this incident. We will be working as quickly and diligently as possible in order to reopen the area, but in the meantime I would ask that the public avoid the area. The safety of the public is our top priority and the Met Police will continue to do all we can to protect the people of London.”
In response to the incident, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Police have confirmed that the incident is being treated as a terrorist act. All Londoners, like me, utterly condemn all acts of terrorism on our city. The response of Londoners today shows that we will never be cowed, intimidated or divided by any terrorist attack. I have been and will continue to be in close touch with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Transport for London, and the other emergency services. My heartfelt thanks goes to the brave first responders who were so quickly on the scene following the attack. The message from the police is to remain calm and vigilant. You can check the TfL website for travel advice.”
British Transport Police has announced that it will have extra officers on patrol following the incident. “We know incidents such as this are likely to cause concern, so our officers will be highly visible both on board trains and at stations,” said Superintendent Chris Horton from British Transport Police. “We are there to reassure the travelling public so please don’t be alarmed if you see our officers, including firearms officers, on your journey.”
In response to the attack Gavin Hepburn, director at road blockers, bollards and barriersmanufacturer, ATG Access, said: “Vehicle attacks are becoming an all too frequent occurrence. Although the motive of this morning’s incident outside the Houses of Parliament is still unconfirmed, such attacks reinforce the fact that cities are extremely vulnerable to this type of threat.
“While the permanent security solutions that had been deployed in the area successfully halted the vehicle, a number of pedestrians were still injured,” he continued. “This suggests that perhaps now is the time for a mass review of the security measures being used to protect members of the public in vulnerable locations. As we approach the August bank holiday, a reassuring show of security will be imperative to ensuring people feel safe in London and in cities across the country. In a recent survey, we found that 39% of people are ‘really worried’ about security issues, with 29% wishing to see more visible security measures put in place to make them feel safer.”
More to follow…