May 14, 2018
Heathrow tests joint response to a terrorist incident
The Metropolitan Police, emergency services and Heathrow Airport have carried out a major live-play exercise at Heathrow to test their joint response to a terrorist incident.
Codenamed ‘Raptor’, the multi-agency exercise, which was a part of routine training and not in response to any specific threat, ran over two days and involved more than 1,200 people. This included responders from blue-light services, counter terrorism investigation teams and Heathrow staff, as well as numerous volunteers playing the role of casualties.
The terrorist scenario began on 12 May and involved an armed terrorist attack scenario taking place in the decommissioned Terminal 1 building at Heathrow, testing the initial armed police response to deal with and neutralise the immediate threat to the public, as well as the police response to hostage and siege situations. The second day focused on victim and casualty identification and recovery and will also test investigative and forensic recovery processes. This was carried out within the context of a major international airport and the additional complexities that brings.
Superintendent Dawn Morris, the exercise lead for the Metropolitan Police said: “The challenges of dealing with any major incident at an airport the size of Heathrow are, quite simply, exceptional and the learning that we and our emergency services colleagues have gained through this series of exercises has been invaluable. This will not only benefit us in London, but we will share any learning we can with other forces and airports across the country.
“I must also stress that this exercise was not carried out in response to any specific threat or intelligence and it forms part of our ongoing programme of exercising for various types of major incidents. Given that the threat level remains at ‘severe’, I hope that this kind of joint exercise reassures the public that if the worst were to happen, then we are ready and fully prepared to respond and keep people safe.”
Chris Garton, chief operating officer at Heathrow, said: “The safety and security of our passengers and airport colleagues is our utmost priority and this exercise is a key part of preparing an effective response, if the worst should happen at Heathrow or any other UK airport. What’s more, exercises like Raptor allow us to identify areas to strengthen and collaborate on in our partnership with the emergency services and police so the likelihood of an incident like this taking place can be even further reduced. We are proud to have taken part in such a complex and important exercise, and we will work with our partners to share the lessons we have learnt.”