Volume 2: Views and information from organisations




НазваниеVolume 2: Views and information from organisations
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Sally Hamwee (Deputy Chair): None of this is having a go at any of you, about the messages you were giving.

Andrew Trotter (QPM, Deputy Chief Constable, British Transport Police): No, but it is an issue because often it is not just what they are showing but the line they run underneath and sometimes that can be out of date. I certainly know that we were on to the various broadcasters when we saw things that were playing that were now inaccurate. We had a number of press conferences, both staged press conferences and lots and lots of one-to-one interviews by a lot of my colleagues that are here. A lot was going out that day. They should have been picking up the latest message and, where possible, we were correcting the things that they were still running. However, 24-hour media need to fill up a lot of space.

Sally Hamwee (Deputy Chair): Indeed. Absolutely. One had the feeling that they needed the most high profile figure they could, and I wondered whether that was a reason why that message was repeated for longer than it might have been.

Peter Hulme Cross (AM): One thing that did seem to go wrong was that people who had gone into work and were in business were told to stay there, yet children who were at school were told to go home. We had a number of cases where children went home and their parents were at work and being told to stay there. Clearly there was a disparity there.

Andrew Trotter (QPM, Deputy Chief Constable, British Transport Police): I do not think that we can say there is a particular message that I am aware of about what the children should do because children obviously are spread all over London in places that are completely unconnected with the area subject to the attacks. I think in the initial period immediately after the bombing there was naturally a great deal of concern about whether there could be more bombs. We just did not know that at that stage and as the day unfolded and the picture became clearer, naturally the message changed accordingly in conjunction with the transport agencies to make sure the message went out about when transport was up and running again and people could start to return home. Efforts were made throughout the day to update messages and to make sure those messages were accurate and get them out to the public as best we could.

Peter Hendy (Managing Director, Surface Transport, TfL): I have to say that is the first time I have heard that school children were sent home early. If there had been any London-wide pattern of that we probably would have heard because it would have put stress on the bus service in suburban London at a very odd time.

Richard Barnes (Chair): We had employees here who received messages from children who had arrived home, and we have certainly picked it up from elsewhere in London as well.

Chris Allison (Commander, Metropolitan Police Service): If I can support Peter (Hendy) here, the issue was initially raised by the local authority Gold at the first meeting at 10.30am at Scotland Yard, that we had children at schools and at that current time they were going to keep the children at school for us to make some decisions about how towards the end of the day we were going to get everybody home. It was an issue that was raised by them very, very early on; it was not something that was forgotten about or done by default. That is certainly the first time I have heard of children actually being sent home.

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Richard Barnes (Chair): We certainly had officers and managers here that had that particular issue. Would local authority Gold then contact the 32 London boroughs to tell them what the messages are?

Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): That is exactly what should happen and that was the confirmation that was given, certainly in the co-ordination meetings that I chaired, that the message from local authority Gold was going out for the responsible people at the schools to make sure children were not put in a predicament where they could not get home. It was an active consideration, and I will confirm what my colleagues have said: if there had been the suggestion that children were being, if you like, just let out of school, that would have been a very concerning issue for us. That is not our information. I do take what you say, and perhaps colleagues here had a slightly different experience, but that certainly was not the information that we were getting, and had it been so then we would have taken steps to ensure appropriate arrangements were in place. We were very clearly assured by the local authority representatives that all the necessary and appropriate arrangements were in place.

Ron Dobson (Assistant Commissioner, Service Delivery, London Fire Brigade):

If I could just add that. The LFB co-ordinates the local authority Gold response through the London Local Authority Co-ordination Centre (LLACC) arrangements put in place last year. I also want to support what other colleagues have said and I can confirm that those messages were being conveyed to the boroughs through our co-ordination centre about saying schools should keep the children there and make sure people were not just being released in that way. I am not quite sure where that did come from but clearly we need to look at that for next time.

Richard Barnes (Chair): We have certainly got clear evidence that it happened because we know the individuals concerned.

Dick Fedorcio (Director of Public Affairs, Metropolitan Police Service): At 1.01pm, we issued a statement saying there was likely to be some disruption to children’s journeys home from schools and that schools would be liaising with Local Education Authorities (LEAs) to ensure that children were kept safe until arrangements could be made with their parents to collect them. That was cleared at the local authority liaison Bronze at the time.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Although two hours later, parents were being told to stay where they were.

Dick Fedorcio (Director of Public Affairs, Metropolitan Police Service): (Sir) Ian Blair’s comments were to people outside of London asking them not to come into London. That is what his statement said. However, earlier on the advice we were giving to people was to go in, stay in and tune in – that is listen to the media to see what is going on.

Rita Dexter (Director of Corporate Services, London Fire Brigade): Chair, if I could just add that some schools will have made their own decisions without necessarily having regard to advice from the LEA. The current arrangements for schooling and education provides for classes of schools to make decisions independently. Some schools will have done that either because the LEA was not in the position to give advice on the matter, because we know that generally there was no confirmed advice on the matter until the emergency services were content that they had the right advice to

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give, but in advance of that some employers made their own decisions and some schools will be examples of employers who made those decisions in relation to schoolchildren.

As Mr Dobson has said, the local authority Gold arrangements provided for the LEAs to receive the best advice available as it became available and that was for people to remain where they were until we were in a position to confirm arrangements for people to be able to depart and to undertake a journey. Being told that you can now go home is only useful if you have a means of getting home. That was one of the issues that some of our staff were raising with us as an employer. We were certainly contacted by some of our white-collar unions mid-morning who were saying, ‘Joe Bloggs over here has told their employees to go home, are you not going to do that for us?’ To which our response was ‘No, we will wait for the formal advice and as soon as we have it we will give it to you.’ The basic point is that some schools will have made their own decisions as some are entitled to do and some are just wont to do.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Nevertheless, you would have waited for the formal advice because you are within the loop, whereas the vast majority of employers in London are not within the loop. I certainly know of companies that made a decision to send their people home early.

Rita Dexter (Director of Corporate Services, London Fire Brigade): Indeed so.

Richard Barnes (Chair): There were also those images of them walking up the Euston Road and out west. There are two more areas which we ideally wish to cover before one o’clock. One of those is the temporary mortuary and how it was determined where that was going to go and if it worked. I do not know who can help us on that.

Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Chair, I think that I can certainly start and then I might bring in one of my colleagues who is actually not at the table at the minute. The issue in relation to the Resilience Mortuary, to give it its proper name, was raised with me in the afternoon of 7 July by Dr Knapman, the coroner who has the lead. One of the issues was it had never been deployed before but these were extraordinary times in terms of there being a lack of clarity as to the numbers of people who were deceased, and there was real concern that there would be sufficient capacity in relation to the mortuaries across London. The decision was taken by me in conjunction with Dr Knapman as being the most appropriate way of dealing with the deceased.

Sadly, I think that one of the things that perhaps is not generally recognised is that the bodies of those people who died during this had significant dismemberment, and it was not going to be a simple matter of being able to go for facial identification such was the level of dismemberment and the number of body parts that there actually were. There did have to be some extraordinary arrangements put in place.

In relation to the Resilience Mortuary, once the decision had been made, the actioning of that decision fell to the London Resilience Team. It was my understanding that initially their chosen site was Chelsea Barracks and when the attempt was made to erect the mortuary there, which was their first choice, there were reasons as to why that could not be undertaken. A subsequent venue was identified at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC). I understand that the HAC raised some concerns in relation to revenue that they were expecting to be able to generate through the use of their grounds during the summer. As I understand it, that resulted in discussions between

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Westminster City Council and the ODPM. Those discussions were completed, and I understand that the bill, if there is one, is going to fall to the ODPM. However, the mortuary itself was erected and perhaps I could call upon the Senior Identification Manager, Rick Turner, who hopefully is in the audience here somewhere.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Whilst he is coming down, I understand that the HAC is a private company?

Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): It is, yes.

Richard Barnes (Chair): There is a Territorial Army division of it, but it is a private company. However, this gives the impression that on 7 July somebody was driving round London with a temporary mortuary looking for a site.

Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): No, I do not think that is an accurate reflection.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Yet you had knocked on the door of Chelsea Barracks and then went up to the HAC, which is in City Road. It is a bit like hawking your wares.

Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): As I understand it, a number of sites were identified as possible contingencies for the establishment of the Resilience Mortuary. In terms of the greater plan that was part of the London Resilience Team’s contribution to it. I think it was probably at the pretty early stages and perhaps they had not had the time to test their contingencies. I think the HAC was suggested to them as a second option probably by the military themselves and negotiations then took place between the HAC, who you quite rightly identified as a private company, and the London Resilience Team.

In terms of authorising it, I authorised the need for it, as it were, and the London Resilience Team was then responsible for identifying the location and the establishment of it. We were then the users of it in terms of assisting the investigation. However, I think just in terms of demonstrating how valuable it has been, it would be useful to hear from Rick (Turner), who has undertaken the role of Senior Identification Manager. Given that these events were on 7 July, I think it is interesting that we have only just reached the stage where the last identifications have actually taken place.

Richard Barnes (Chair): I understand that. However, before we move on, if a lawyer from Westminster is negotiating the contract on the day as well, again that gives us the impression that there was no really pre-planned process. I know that there were a number of sites that were identified and that they were probably all believed to be military sites which are not necessarily available. I also understand, because it has been mentioned, that the sum of £0.5 million was talked about, which I now understand is closer to £1 million for the actual site of the temporary mortuary, but that is the responsibility of the ODPM.

Andrew Trotter (QPM, Deputy Chief Constable, British Transport Police): On the planning side, I think that the situation is that a number of sites were identified, and I understand that the HAC was one of those sites that was also in the plan. We will hear from the expert in due course, but the plans were drawn up beforehand and the sites were identified and that was a site that was decided upon at the time. I do not think it was a matter of anyone hawking anything around. This was a pre-determined site that they went to.

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Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Chair, I think that is probably also fair to say that it may be under reconsideration now.

Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): I think it is also important to mention that there are other aspects as well which impound upon it in terms of the jurisdictions. There were three coroners’ jurisdictions: Dr (Paul) Matthews in the City; Dr (Paul) Knapman at Edgware Road, and also Dr (Andrew) Reid. Furthermore, coronial law says you cannot transfer bodies except in adjacent coronial jurisdictions. There is a law issue that I understand is being addressed at the Department of Constitutional Affairs as we speak.

Richard Barnes (Chair): That does need to be addressed.

Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): It is being addressed. As Dr Knapman was the lead coroner, as Assistant Commissioner Brown has stated, it fell upon him to find out where the best location was to meet those jurisdictional issues. In actual fact, the HAC was always in the plans of the London Resilience Team; in fact, I think it was number two and number three on the list. However, because of the events that were happening in London, Chelsea Barracks was not suitable for security reasons to be the prime site which it was destined to be, so a very early decision was made, in fact on 7 July at 4pm, to site us at the HAC.

Richard Barnes (Chair): Was it fully equipped and furnished?

Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): It was not, but again the London Resilience plan, a mass fatalities plan, went to all the major agencies, thankfully having been completed some weeks beforehand, in fact in June of this year. By all means you can have a copy of that plan if you do not have it. Within that plan, there is a structured build, if you like, of the Resilience Mortuary. It is not to be referred to as a ‘temporary mortuary’ in the wake of 9/11 because they still have a mortuary and it is not good for victims’ families to have a temporary Resilience Mortuary. There is a structured build of that mortuary in a number of different phases.

Phase one was clearly that there was going to be a time lag between the removal of the deceased from the scenes, because the scenes had to be cleared by colleagues from the LFB etc for health and safety issues, until they could be received at the mortuary in terms of storage pending an examination. That first phase was to build the mortuary reception area and the refrigeration area, and then the last builds, if you like, the least important in a sense, were the canteen and the parking facilities, but that was some way down the line. Just for the factual information, the first phase of the build was completed at 10pm on 8 July. You probably saw the pictures on the television. The final build resulted in an area of some two football pitches, some 7,500 cubic metres of tented facility.

I think it is important to stress here, because I have been dealing with a number of families of the deceased over the last four months, that from all the pathologists, including the coroners and the experts – the ‘ologists’ as I call them – I hear that the facilities within the Resilience Mortuary were some of the best they have ever experienced. That was down to pre-contingency planning on behalf of all the agencies through the London Resilience Team. The suggestion that the facilities were, if you like, thrown together is absolutely not accurate. I am just giving some clarity. Some families are concerned that a ‘temporary mortuary’ means things are just thrown together, and that could not be further from the truth.

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