‘The vehicle is the easiest way of causing mass panic’ – counter-terrorism police tells Freight in the City 2017

HGV operators and rental suppliers have been urged to be vigilant in order to mitigate the use of the ‘vehicle as a weapon’ in a terrorist attack.

Following incidents in Nice and Berlin in 2016, where trucks were used as part of attacks in built-up and crowded areas, and incidents on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge in the capital – as well as in Manchester in May 2017 – Sergeant Wayne Watling, counter terrorism focus desk, Metropolitan Police took the opportunities to tell delegates at Freight in the City 2017 of the need to remain watchful.

How many people have drivers that go out on the same routes? They know what is normal. They will know if there is something out of the ordinary,” Watling said. “We have been at severe [risk of terrorism] since August 2014 – that is an awfully long time.

“If you look at Nice, that was a horrendous situation, and that individual was not on anyone’s radar. He was not known for terrorism,” he said.

Watling revealed that 20 attacks over the past four years have been foiled by counter-terrorism police, including seven in the past seven months. “We have to be aware of the threat but get on with things.”

He also spoke of the attacks in Nice and Berlin involving HGVs: “The vehicle is the easiest way of causing mass panic. The HGV hire industry has spent a lot in reducing that risk.”

Watling also explained that the contingencies within a company to improve safety, that businesses put in place to reduce terrorism, reduces the risk of terrorism.