7/7 ten years on with The Security Institute
July 7th 2005, a date synonymous with terror on the streets of London. The day and Al Qaeda inspired home grown terrorists traveled into central London with one aim; to cause mayhem. The 4 coordinated attacks left 52 dead and dozens injured; many are still suffering today, 10 years on.
On the 5th floor of the Metropolitan Police Headquarters in London a conference called “7th July 2005, 10 years on” organised by The Security Institute, the largest membership organisation for security professionals in the UK, was held to remember and pay respects to those so terribly affected by the events of the 7th July 2005 and to look back and examine professional responses in order to inform future challenges.
Sponsored by Mitie and raising money for “The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace”, a charity dedicated to peace after an IRA bomb in Warrington on 20th March 1993, killed 3 year old Johnathan Ball and 12 Year old Tim Parry. The Foundation works nationally to support those affected by terrorism and conflict and an overview of their work was delivered by Terry O’Hara
The conference, chaired by Bill Butler who retired as the Security Industry Authority Chief Executive in May, opened with Nigel Furlong the Head of Resilience Planning from Transport for London (TfL) and Hamish Cameron, the London Resilience Team (LRT) head based with the London Fire Brigade.
What was very clear from both of their presentations is the way their organisations have worked together, building on lessons that had been learned through earlier IRA atrocities to make London, and TfL as a complex and critical part of the cities infrastructure, a hugely more resilient city.
Mike Thompson, currently with Rydens Security & Investigation, but on that fateful day was the Disaster Victim Identification Manager for the 7/7 Bombings. A task that many in the audience probably hadn’t realised just how critical and complex it was. It was his teams liaising directly with victim’s families who were at the forefront of their grief and contributed much to reducing uncertainty as quickly as possible and thereby further heartache on the families.
The most poignant and moving talk of the day that will remain with all who were there was that of Daniel Biddle from Nationwide Access Consultancy, He had a different part in the atrocities, he was the worst injured survivor of 7/7 and spent a year in hospital and suffered many life threatening injuries. His praise for the support given by Mike Thompson’s families liaison officers reinforced their importance.
His story from explosion to hospital discharge 51 weeks later, after a huge number of operations and against all odds, was inspirational. His empathy and concern for the other victims was clear and his description of the effect of the injuries that don’t leave physical scars, which he reminded the audience that many involved that day will still be suffering when he said “PTSD is more debilitating than the loss of limbs” and his fears that there are many “Who don’t want to admit they have got it”.
Haras Rafiq the Managing Director of the Quilliam Foundation and formerly a member of the UK Government task force looking at countering extremism in response to 7/7. He outlined his work on and delivery of a number of projects relating to the analysis of radicalisation, as well as the de-radicalisation of extremists.
The key point from his overview was that the current threats are not religiously driven, they are extremism driven and that extremism is referred to as Islamism, a very radical and extremist focused political ideology different to Islam, the religion.
The final speaker of the day was Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley QPM from the Metropolitan Police who was the Chief Constable of Surrey Police before becoming the National Police Lead for Counter Terrorism.
Garry Evanson Chairman of The Security Institute summed the day up when he said “Today has allowed us to reflect on the progress that has been made since 7/7 and although all of our speakers were excellent, I am sure everyone will remember the power and context of what Daniel said.”