Armed police man all public entrances to Parliament after Westminster attack

All public entrances into Parliament are currently protected by armed guards, police have said, following recommendations by the chief coroner after the Westminster terror attack inquests.

Mark Lucraft QC raised a string of “concerns” after ruling four members of the public and Pc Keith Palmer were unlawfully killed by terrorist Khalid Masood.

The 52-year-old mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four and seriously injuring 29, before stabbing the unarmed officer to death at the Palace of Westminster.

Keith Palmer tribute
Keith Palmer tribute

In December, Mr Lucraft issued a detailed report on “action to prevent future deaths”, including stationing armed guards at the gates.

Responding to the coroner on February 18, Scotland Yard said the Carriage Gates, where Pc Palmer was killed, has a static armed post and is always protected by at least two armed officers during the hours that Parliament sits.

These measures were introduced after a tactical assessment made shortly after the attack on March 22, 2017.

It added: “The present armed policing model ensures that all open public entrances to the Parliamentary Estate are protected by armed guards when Parliament is sitting.”

This default position will only be able to be challenged by a chief superintendent or officer of a higher rank.

The Met also responded to a recommendation that instructions to officers taking up posts inside the Parliamentary Estate be checked to ensure their consistency.

Khalid Masood
Khalid Masood

It said: “To the extent that there was uncertainty and a lack of precision in the wording of a small number of post instructions relating, for example, to phrases such as “short patrol”, this has been addressed and such wording is no longer used.”

Among the multiple recommendations were calls for “lone actor or multi-actor marauding attacks” to be included in officers’ training.

The Met said this was already covered but it is discussing the recommendation with its firearms command and the National Police Chief’s Council.

In a separate submission, the Government responded to the coroner’s calls that intelligence agencies should consider if it is “practicable and beneficial” to log its reasons when making a decision to close down a “subject of interest”.

Masood was closed as a subject of interest in December 2010.

The security service said improvements to the subject of interest process were made in 2018 and current practice “ensures that a record is made of the details why the individual should be closed”.

PA Graphic
PA Graphic

The Government also revealed a voluntary scheme was introduced in December 2018 after the coroner recommended a code of practice on checks to be carried out before vehicles are hired.

The Rental Vehicle Security Scheme was designed to develop a security culture in the vehicle hire industry and “support deterrence and potential detection of those seeking to use rental vehicles in attacks”.

The Department for Transport scheme ensures licence verification checks are made before vehicles are handed over and staff are trained to identify suspicious behaviour.

The scheme has been backed by the British Vehicle Rental Leasing Association and is said to have received an “encouraging level of take-up”.

Transport for London said it is reviewing the heights of parapets and railings on bridges to identify barriers lower than one metre.

Any changes to Westminster Bridge would have to be agreed with local authorities because it is Grade II listed, it added.