Top of the Month: Met Police comms operation during Westminster terrorist attack praised

The Metropolitan Police comms operation during last week's terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament has received strong praise from senior public sector comms professionals.

The immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack last Wednesday in Westminster (pic credit: ©Lukesteele4 via Twitter)
The immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack last Wednesday in Westminster (pic credit: ©Lukesteele4 via Twitter)
The force’s comms operation moved into high alert mode last Wednesday afternoon after a man, later identified as Khalid Masood, drove a car onto the pavement at high speed along Westminster Bridge before crashing into the gates of the Houses of Parliament and stabbing a police officer to death.

Five people, including Masood, were killed during the attack and at least 50 were injured, with 13 understood to still be in hospital.

Within twenty minutes of the attack starting, the Met had already issued its first tweet, alerting the public that there had been an incident.

An hour later, the Met tweeted again, appealing for the public to remain calm and vigilant, before confirming the attack was being treated as a terrorist incident.

The Met’s twitter account then called on people to show restraint before posting pictures and videos of the attack.

Later that day, in time for the BBC news at 6pm, acting deputy commissioner Mark Rowley gave a calm and assured performance in front of the cameras as he described the ensuing police operation to the assembled media.

Updates were also provided across the Met's other social media channels:

Earlier that week, the Met had carried out an anti-terror exercise on the Thames, in which they tested not only police readiness but also how its comms would respond in an attack.

The entire comms operation was highly praised by Guto Harri, former media strategist to Boris Johnson during his mayoralty.

He told PRWeek: "In a fluid, fast-moving, situation, the Met was very quick to project a sense of control, perspective and reassurance that was convincing and consistent. It’s a tribute to the professionalism of the team and the fierce intelligence of [Met Police director of comms] Martin Fewell."

Other public sector comms professionals added their praise to Harri’s over Twitter, including Chris Webb, former head of news for the Met.

Webb was joined by Scott Field, director of comms at TeamGB, who tweeted:

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