Armed counter-terrorism police numbers boosted across London
More overt and undercover counter-terrorism police will be patrolling London’s streets in the near future in order to spot those carrying out ‘hostile surveillance’ in preparation for crimes or acts of terrorism, the Metropolitan Police Service has announced.
The tactic, dubbed ‘Operation Servator,’ is already used by the British Transport Police and the City of London Police.
The Met claims the shift is based “on extensive research into the psychology of criminals and what undermines their activities.”
While the force said the move has not come “in response to a specific threat,” the operations in south London from Monday aim to “disrupt potential terrorist activity and crime.”
Deputy mayor for crime and policing Sophie Linden told PA on Monday “keeping Londoners safe is the mayor’s top priority and we know our emergency services do a great job every single day protecting our city.
“However we cannot be complacent, which is why it is good to see the Met rolling out Project Servator to help deter and detect crime in our city’s busiest areas.
“This tactic was endorsed by Lord Harris in his review of London’s preparedness for a terror attack, commissioned by the mayor,” she said.
When plans to increase the number of armed response team were announced in September they were derided as an “anti-terror PR stunt” that overlooks “proper policing work” needed to combat a terrorism threat.
Essex Police and Kent Police both confirmed at the time they would be sending armed police officers geared up with guns and Tasers to sites including Bluewater and Lakeside shopping centers, Canterbury Cathedral, the Port of Dover and Southend Airport.
Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent Frank Furedi said dealing with the public’s perception of crime was increasingly more popular than “proper policing work.”
“It is distracting police from what they should be doing - the hard graft of dealing with bad people, rather than PR stunts,” he told the Times.
“[Terrorism] is a very serious matter, which is dealt with best with low-key behind-the-scenes intelligence work. That’s how we deal with these kinds of threats, not this fantasy of having a bunch of police marching in public.”