- On the morning of 14 August 2018, a car crashed into anti-terror bollards outside the Houses of Parliament.
- Congestion and travel disruptions are to be expected in Parliament Square and the surrounding area throughout 14 August.
- The London Metropolitan Police are treating the incident as terror-related.
Travel Information: At approximately 0737 local time on 14 August 2018, a car transiting the Parliament Square area crashed into the security barriers in Westminster, outside the Houses of Parliament. The Houses of Parliament are surrounded with security barriers made with steel and concrete, due to the latest trend of terror attacks involving unsophisticated, low technology weapons, particularly in the wake of Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017. The event caused panic in the area, prompting emergency services and counter-terrorism police officers to respond. The driver did not leave the vehicle and was swiftly detained at the scene and is now being questioned by police. The London Ambulance Service has confirmed that at least three people have been treated for injuries but are in a stable condition. Parliament is currently in summer recess, meaning there are fewer politicians working in London.
It is believed that police will be closely investigating the route which the vehicle took and assessing the possible intent of the driver. This method of attack is the most difficult to prevent, detect, or counter. Jihadist militants have previously called for attacks involving vehicles as they know that having a vehicle, rather than a knife or firearm, does not arouse suspicion of the police or local citizens. Authorities are treating the incident as terror-related with the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command leading the investigation.
Solace Global Comment
Parliament Square, surrounding roads, tube stations, and bus services have been closed or cancelled to assist police in their investigation. Westminster underground station has been temporarily closed, with travellers unable to enter or exit. However, travellers are able to change lines within Westminster station. Streets around Parliament Square, Millbank, Victoria Tower Gardens, and Lambeth have been cordoned off, with the cordon being extended further away from the scene. Bus routes 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 87, 148, 159, 211, and 453 are all on diversions.
Congestion is expected in the area while the investigation led by the counter-terrorism police continues. It is likely that a heightened and more visible security measures will be in place across London, particularly in areas frequented by tourists and at government buildings. The presence of sniffer dogs has been reported by local media, suggesting the area surrounding parliament will be swept for any other potential dangers.
Low Terrorism Risk
This incident shows how even the most highly-protected areas can be subjected to terror attacks. However, because the area is so highly-guarded, the number of injuries has been limited. If this attack is judged to have been undertaken by domestic-based terrorists, MI5 and other security forces will be looking at whether or not the attacker was part of a wider network.
Due to this incident, travellers are advised to avoid the area in the short term, adhering to police instruction. Travellers are also advised not to film or take photos in the area of the incident. Significant delays are to be expected on London’s transport routes, and travellers are advised to plan for delays accordingly. Travellers are advised that in the coming days and weeks, the atmosphere in London may be tense. Large-scale security operations may be set off by situations that ordinarily would not concern the population (such as suspicious individuals, fires, or unattended bags). In such events, travellers are advised to adhere to the instructions of police immediately.
Travellers are advised to maintain situational awareness at all times when visiting London and employ sensible security precautions. Enhanced security provision is not required when visiting the city or the United Kingdom as a whole. Travellers should consider the use of travel-tracking technology with an integrated intelligence feed. This should enable travellers to be informed of security events within their vicinity and enable them to contact others in case of emergency.