Met Police test counter terror response on River Thames

The Metropolitan Police Service, along with emergency service partners, has carried out the first joint major live-play exercise to test their response to a terrorist threat on the River Thames.

The exercise, 'Exercise Anchor’, involved over 200 Met Police officers and staff and took place between 0900 and 1300 hours on Sunday 19 March, with the majority of the activity taking place along Blackwall Reach on the river Thames.

According to a statement from the Met Police,the scenario involved a group of terrorists hijacking a passenger pleasure boat on the Thames and taking a number of hostages, to travel up the Thames to Central London to carry out a terrorist attack.

The exercise was designed to test the response and command and control protocols of emergency services, working with maritime partners, in dealing with this kind of situation in a marine environment.

Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officers (CTSFOs) were deployed during the exercise alongside the Met’s Marine Policing Unit and intercepted the ‘suspect’ vessel, boarding and securing it. The coordination of search and rescue teams was then put to the test with a ‘dummy’ body falling into the river, challenging those responding in how to rescue the person in the midst of an ongoing terrorist incident.

Commander BJ Harrington, from the Metropolitan Police explained: "This was the first time that we've tested together the response of the various agencies that operate on the River Thames to a potential terror attack.

“I’d like to stress that this scenario wasn’t based on any specific intelligence, but it’s important to remember that the threat level for international terrorism in the UK remains at Severe. This kind of exercise demonstrates that should a terrible event ever happen for real, London is ready to respond in the most efficient and effective way possible.

"I’d like to thank the public and those using the river for their cooperation and understanding during this exercise. It has undoubtedly helped us to strengthen the working relationship between the other marine agencies that would be involved in dealing with this type of incident on the Thames.

"With the threat level as it is, we cannot afford to be complacent and the public should always be vigilant and ready to act if the worst were to happen. Exercises such as this one show that London is prepared and should reassure anyone who lives, works or visits London that there is an amazing team of highly dedicated, professional and skilled men and women ready to keep them safe from this kind of threat.”

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