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Project ServatorProject Servator - Together, we've got it covered

Frequently asked questions

Why has the City of London Police adopted these new tactics?

The City of London Police is dedicated to protecting our communities. We continually adapt and change our tactics in order to deter criminals and those who threaten our safety and security. Our focus will always be on keeping people safe.

Does this mean that the Police are anticipating a terrorist attack?

No. We have recently conducted a thorough review of our Policing methods for a range of criminal activities. We know that the new tactics will enhance how we protect our communities from a wide range of crime, including terrorism.

How else can I help or be involved?

We cannot stress enough how much you can help by telling your staff and customers about Project Servator. If we work together as a community, we’ve got security covered. Your support by displaying posters and by reporting any suspicious activity to us immediately is vital in helping us to keep the City safe for everyone to enjoy.

Who do I need to speak to if I suspect someone of carrying out hostile reconnaissance?

If you suspect it, don’t hesitate to report it. If you believe there is an immediate threat, please call 999. Otherwise, please call 101.

What should I tell my staff?

You should tell them that Project Servator:

  • Is being run to help protect our communities and everyone who works, visits and lives there. This is not in response to an increase in the threat level or a potential attack
  • Comprises of innovative, proven and effective methods to help deter and detect criminals
  • Consists of highly visible operations that will occur regularly across the City, at any time
  • Officers may visit during the operations to inform and reassure both customers and staff about what’s happening. And that they:
    • have an important role to play in helping inform and reassure customers
    • Should report any suspicious activity immediately. If you believe there is an immediate threat, please call 999. Otherwise, please call 101.

What should I tell my customers?

You should tell them that Project Servator:

  • Is being run to help protect our communities and everyone who works, visits and lives there. This is not in response to an increase in the threat level or a potential attack.
  • Involves an increased number of co-ordinated police deployments. These deployments include a mix of visible and covert patrols which have been specially trained for their protection. These deployments can happen anywhere and at any time so people should not be alarmed if they see a sudden increase in police presence.
  • If they want further information they should speak directly to an officer. Information can also be found on the City of London Police website.

Will this affect my business? Will my customers be put off by the police presence?

We have carefully designed and tested the new tactics to reassure the public as well as deter and detect criminals. However, your help is key and you have a very important role to play, by helping us reassure customers and visitors directly.

Telling your staff and customers about what to expect will provide reassurance that these measures are for their safety and not as a result of an increase in threat. If you have any concerns regarding the project or would like to discuss it further, contact the community policing team on 020 7601 2452 or email​

You said these methods are effective in detecting criminals. What evidence do you have for this?

Various studies have been carried out in airports, train and coach stations in London with both police and civilian screening staff. In addition, these tactics have also been deployed in other areas of the UK, most notably during the Commonwealth Games in Scotland earlier this year. Research shows that about 33% of stops lead to an outcome such as an arrest or caution. Traditionally, random stops only generate less than 5% positive outcomes.

How effective are the new tactics?

Various studies of these techniques have been carried out in airports, train and coach stations in London. These studies consistently show that about 33% of stops lead to an outcome such as an arrest or caution.

Since the launch of Project Servator as “business as usual” here in the City, research undertaken in February showed that 69% of the public stated they were prepared to report suspicious activity [1]. And it doesn’t stop there; since the official launch of Project Servator earlier this year there has been an impressive 76% increase in 101 calls related to public reports of suspicious activity, 1,409 stops and 74 arrests.

In a previous limited trial over three weeks in November/December 2012 in the City of London, there were 208 stops and around one in three led to a successful outcome such as an arrest, caution or vehicle seizure.

What is hostile reconnaissance?

It is the information gathering stage criminals and terrorists go through to select their target and plan their operation.

Who should people talk to if they suspect someone of carrying out hostile reconnaissance?

If they suspect someone they should report it immediately. For an immediate threat, they should call 999 or the Anti-Terrorist Hotline Number 0800 789 321. Otherwise, they should call 101.

How/why do these tactics help deter criminals?

These tactics are proven to be effective in deterring and detecting criminals conducting hostile reconnaissance. Our understanding of the criminal mindset​ has informed how deterrence measures should be developed to be more visible and unpredictable to the criminal undertaking hostile reconnaissance. The measures being deployed are unpredictable in terms of timing, place and form, and are multi-layered, drawing on the profile, posture and presence of specialist teams of officers, dogs, CCTV and ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Reader) on the one hand and communications with City residents, workers and visitors on the other. The communications to support the tactics are designed to reassure and inform the public about the purpose of these deployments and to encourage reporting of anything suspicious during and between deployments.

Rationale for new tactics

Why has the City of London Police developed these new tactics?

The City of London Police is dedicated to the protection of the City. Development of these new tactics has been a proactive step that will help further this aim. This, paired with the relatively small size of the force and its role in protecting the multitude of key businesses and organisations of the Financial Sector located within its boundaries made it the perfect test-bed for developing and trialing these new tactics. Following a successful trial period and subsequent development and testing, the force is now incorporating these new tactics as business as usual.

What do you expect the tactics to achieve?

We know from our three year research programme that these tactics help deter, detect and ultimately disrupt criminal activity. They also help by involving local business and communities in reporting crime and building trust and confidence in the police.

There will be a continued programme of testing and evaluation of these tactics on the public and local community, collating and analysing outcomes, and red-teaming hostile reconnaissance.

What type of criminals are you looking for?

We are looking to deter, detect and ultimately disrupt a broad spectrum of criminality from terrorism, to organised and petty crime.

About the deployments

How are these Police deployments different?

This style of deployments is new to the Police and far from routine. They are intelligence-led and unpredictable, not only in time and place but also in the composition of the deployments. They will utilise the range of resources that the City of London Police has at its disposal, ​working with local communities and businesses in the City to encourage reporting of suspicious activity and police officers through enhanced technology in terms of ANPR and CCTV.

How many officers are involved in Project Servator?

The numbers will vary from deployment to deployment, however, as is our intention, not all aspects of our capabilities and resources will be apparent. In addition to our uniformed police officers, there will be plain clothes officers present along with CCTV and other measures that may not be visible.

Are the deployments today the model for how they will be done in the future?

What we will see today are ‘enhanced’ deployments. We will continue to use this mode of deployment but we will not always have the same number of officers and resources involved.

What is new about the CCTV/ANPR?

In-car ANPR and video systems have been fitted to 22 marked police vehicles and new software ensures that all intelligence can be produced more efficiently and used in a more targeted way.

Where are the deployments taking place?

A very important aspect of the tactics is the unpredictability of size, type and location of the operations. These will be decided by the duty officers on the day. As such we cannot inform anyone in advance when or where they will occur.

Do City residents know about these deployments?

Yes, albeit not the specific time and nature of each one. We communicate regularly with our City audiences through a variety of methods from face to face contact, email, SMS and leaflets to Public Relations activities.

How is the public/community involved?

Support from our local communities in the City is testament to the success of the Project; as our tagline suggests - “Together we’ve got security covered” - we can be more successful in partnership. Our community engagement team has spoken to over 250 organisations across the Square Mile, including a school, car parks, small businesses, large multi-occupied premises and larger corporations right up to and including the Bank of England.

We are engaging direct business support by utilising their trained, Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensed, private security officers to augment our deployments where appropriate and asking them to encourage their staff to report suspicious activity to us immediately. This is vital in helping us to keep the City safe for everyone to enjoy. Engagement with our communities is a continuous and ongoing process.

How does it affect business in the City?

We have carefully designed the new tactics to reassure the public as well as to deter and help detect criminals. However, communications and community liaison are key. We support business by communicating that they have an important role to play in helping us explain the tactics to customers and visitors directly and displaying our posters during the deployments. All of this helps allay any undue concerns.

We will also be carrying out patrols with Project Griffin trained security teams.

We follow up with business regularly to obtain their feedback and we will adjust the deployments accordingly.


Why have you decided to use the poster campaign?

Our earlier trials showed that whilst our communication materials, handbills and face to face engagement are effective at reaching some of the public, wider awareness-raising was required; our poster campaign will give us coverage of over 1.2 million people in the City (20% reach) with an opportunity to see our message over ten times. In addition, the advertising and communication materials used during the deployments convey the message that the public have a vital role to play in assisting the City of London Police by reporting suspicious activity.

As our posters state: 'Together we've got security covered'. We have fantastic support from the City of London community. We need their support in continuing to reduce crime and to help keep the City safe.

Who are the posters aimed at?

The communication is aimed at City visitors and residents, while also targeting criminals. We want to send a clear message to those with criminal intent that the community of the City of London – police, business, the public – work together and that if they come into the City, they will be noticed and detected.

How do you know whether it’s been effective?

The materials have been fully developed and tested, both on their own and as part of the original pilot for the new tactics. Their effectiveness will be subject to continued evaluation, and informed by feedback from the general public.

[1] When asked “How likely would you be to report a crime you have witnessed”, 69% stated that they were ‘very likely’ to report suspicious behaviours; 734 interviews were undertaken with city residents, workers and visitors in February/March 2014. ​​