City of London Police marks eighth year of pioneering counter terrorism tactic Project Servator
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Today (10 February 2022), City of London Police celebrates eight years of Project Servator – a counter terrorism policing tactic it pioneered with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) in 2014.
Since then, 23 other police forces have adopted or started to trial Project Servator, which aims to disrupt hostile reconnaissance – the information-gathering terrorists and other criminals need to do to help them plan or prepare to commit a crime.
A key part of the tactic is encouraging the public, including people working in local businesses, to be extra eyes and ears, and report suspicious activity.
Between 1 April and 31 December 2021, Project Servator officers at the City of London Police carried out more than 2,000 deployments and spoke to an average of 1,250 people a month to encourage them to report anything that doesn’t feel right.
In addition, the network of vigilance across the Square Mile was bolstered in 2021 by Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSAs) providing specialist See Check and Notify (SCaN) training to 755 security professionals and office workers in the City including staff at St Pauls Cathedral. Compared with 2020, when 300 people received the training, it is clear there is a growing appetite from businesses to improve the security of their premises and the safety of their staff and customers.
Head of Security for St Pauls Cathedral, Jonathan Brady, said:
"Since its establishment 8 years ago, St Paul’s Cathedral has found Project Servator invaluable in a number of ways; through training for front facing staff teams, joint security patrols, intelligence and information sharing, and for high profile special services and events. As well as this Project Servator has provided crucial advice specifically around security for our regular daily services such as Evensong, helping us ensure the Cathedral is a safe place for all who come to worship and visit."
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Spicer said:
“The threat from terrorism to the UK is substantial, meaning an attack is likely. As we return to normality following the last two years of disruption from the pandemic, we must all work together to make the City a difficult environment for terrorists and other criminals to operate in.
“There are a number of ways in which everyone can get involved in counter terrorism (CT) and become a ‘CT Citizen’. If you are an employer I would encourage you to consider the free See, Check and Notify (SCaN) training programme to help your staff identify suspicious activity and know what to do when they encounter it. You can contact our qualified SCaN trainers at [email protected] for more information.
“Members of the public can also play their part by signing up to the Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) e-Learning which teaches how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and understand what to do in the event of a major incident.
“You know where you live, work, travel and socialise better than anyone else. If something doesn’t seem right, tell a police officer or member of staff where you are. You can also report in confidence at gov.uk/ACT or by calling 0800 789 321. If it's an emergency, always call 999.
“I would like to thank everyone who has trusted their instincts and reported concerns about possible terrorist activity. You are not wasting our time, and no call or click is ignored. Any piece of information could be important. Trust your instincts and ACT. Your actions could save lives.”
Between April and December 2021, through their deployments in the City, Project Servator officers gathered 128 pieces of intelligence about possible criminal activity, 23 of which related to suspected hostile reconnaissance or terrorist activity. They conducted 158 stop and searches, 60 per cent of which resulted in a positive outcome, such as an arrest or them finding something illegal. This is three times the national average. In that time, they made 95 arrests, two of which were related to suspected terrorist activity.
Project Servator is different to regular policing, as officers involved are specially-trained to spot tell-tale signs that someone may be carrying out hostile reconnaissance. Deployments are unpredictable and officers can turn up anywhere at any time. They are supported by a range of police assets, including plain clothed officers working with uniformed officers, police dogs and horses, armed police officers, vehicle checkpoints, live-monitored CCTV coverage and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).