Prospective terrorists were quaking in their boots yesterday as the Met Police unveiled their latest weapon in the war on terror, none other than our own foppish mayor Boris Johnson. No not really, but Boris and Home Secretary Theresa May were on hand to lend support and encouragement to the 2,500 odd personnel and volunteers involved in an exercise to test emergency responses to a terrorist incident. Confused fashionistas from neighbouring Somerset House peered curiously across the police line cordoning off Sydney Street as passengers staggered from the disused Aldwych station, which was used to simulate a terrorist attack involving a partially exploded bomb in the Oxford Circus underground station during the Olympic and Paralympic games. After being evacuated, the passengers and Met volunteers received simulated medical attention and a debriefing as part of the biggest test on security services to date.
Organisations involved ranged from the Met and British Transport Police to the fire brigade, ambulance staff, NHS and even the Home Office. Last year’s inquest into the 7/7 attacks in which 52 people were killed made a series of recommendations including training in emergency situations for front line staff. The UK is currently on its third-highest alert level of ‘substantial’ on the sliding scale of public hysteria and Sky News speculated that this will be raised to ‘severe’ in the run-up to the Games. Didi Mae Hand