Met receives praise for crisis response

The Metropolitan Police and the Government’s comms efforts have vastly imp­roved since the 7/7 terrorist bombings, according to the London Assembly emergency committee.

The body’s chair Richard Barnes praised comms staff at the Met, Strathclyde Police and the Government for their ‘show of maturity’ in the aftermath of this week’s failed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.

He said there had been a ‘dramatic’ improvement since 7/7 when the Met had shown ‘an apparent lack of trust’ in the media.

The Met’s deputy director of comms Chris Webb has taken the lead comms role on the recent attacks. He said the improvement was due to a ‘developed and enhanced’ emergency comms programme, allowing for a quicker dissemination of information than that following the 7/7 bombings.

Following the foiled Haymarket car bombing, Webb contacted the ‘Gold Group’, which comprises the heads of comms at all emergency ser­vices, the Mayor’s office, TfL and government departments early Friday morning via text, email and pager alerts. He then chaired a Friday afternoon briefing with various heads of comms at Scotland Yard.

Following the Glasgow Airport attack, Webb chaired a Saturday night conference call with heads of comms from 26 bodies, including Strathclyde Police, the Home Office and Number 10.

Webb revealed that the Met’s own comms structure echoed the operational command structure in the police force. In an emergency such as last weekend, a ‘gold press officer’ is chosen to oversee the entire internal and external comms programme. A ‘silver press officer’ is responsible for rolling out communications to the national and regional press and team of five ‘bronze press officers’ offers comms support.

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