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Richard Barnes (Chair): You must forgive us if we are not using the correct terminology. We did not want to imply that it was thrown together but again, one of the things going round London is that the furniture for it was supplied by Ikea.
Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): That is correct.
Richard Barnes (Chair): I am not knocking Ikea.
Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): What you have to understand, Chair, is that for example, the family viewing area, which has been recognised as ‘gold star’ in the sense of the facilities that were available, had to meet a number of religious, cultural and community issues. Clearly, as part of my responsibility, it was important that we had taken advice from different members of the community because certain colours may upset people in death. Certainly, whilst I have an understanding, I am not an expert. There was a period whereby you cannot plan for everything but you consult. We knew very quickly that some furniture was lacking. The advice on the appropriate furniture was taken from people who do know some of these little difficulties, and I think it was purchased from Ikea, but that certainly was not anything to do with standards, it was to meet the needs of the victims’ families.
Richard Barnes (Chair): Within your planning, you identified cultural needs and religious needs, and these were all accommodated for at the Resilience Mortuary.
Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes, they were.
Richard Barnes (Chair): I think you should be congratulated on that and the planning.
Peter Hulme Cross (AM): I want to raise a question about the identification of people who were caught up in these events. I know this is quite a difficult area and it did take quite some time to identify people. However, we did have the situation where people who felt that their loved ones had been caught up in this were wandering from hospital to hospital with photographs in their hands asking whether that person had been seen and so on, and this went on for quite some time. Is there perhaps a central place where people could go to ask this sort of question rather than going round from hospital to hospital, because in this day and age that really should not happen?
Richard Barnes (Chair): Can we roll that into the Family Assistance Centre and the issues related to that?
Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): Chair, I think it might be useful if we go through what the process was and the timescales there have been in relation to formal identification. I think that might be quite important because I think the scale of what was asked and the actual timeframes in which it was achieved are worthy of recognition. Then perhaps we can go on to the Family Assistance Centre (FAC), because I take Peter’s (Hulme Cross, AM) point, it is not right for people to have to walk around London to the various hospitals, and perhaps there is a need to have a central point, but perhaps we can come to that in a minute.
Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): Just to give clarity to the actual timescales, all 52 deceased victims and the four suspected bombers, were positively identified to the satisfaction of the Identification Commission
within seven days. I can explain that, if you wish. It was chaired by Dr Knapman or Dr Reid. That was within 10 days of the HAC being nominated as the preferred site for the Resilience Mortuary.
One of my roles, and it is probably the most critical role, is that I have to be satisfied that the identifications have been done as speedily as possible and as accurately as possible. By that I mean that if there is one missed identification then there are two missed identifications, and clearly for the families who are involved in that it is a very, very difficult situation for them to manage. Therefore, I think, to identify 56 deceased within 7 days was some achievement, in terms of the scalability that required. I did a number of samples, and at any one time, for example at midday on about the fourth day, there were some 250 staff at the Resilience Mortuary trying to accomplish the objective of speed and accuracy.
Going back to the question, that is not so much of an issue when the bodies have been brought to the Resilience Mortuary. Clearly, there is a very important role in terms of this being a crime scene and a murder scene. Obviously one of the major aspects apart from identification, and it is the other side of the equation, is the role of the Senior Investigating Officer. The Senior Investigating Officer has the duty to obtain all the forensics etc from the scene, and to recover the bodies, and to make sure we do not lose any of those forensics.
However, at any incidents, as I think my colleagues around the table who have experienced these things will recognise, you do get a gap, which I call an ‘intelligence information gap’, between people ringing up the central Casualty Bureau and indentification. We have heard that between 3pm and 4pm there were over 43,000 calls. We cannot assign police officers or members of the police staff to 43,000 callers, so we need to have some form of gradation. In other words, who we really think the people are who are likely to be involved in this instance. For example, somebody might ring up and say ‘My husband always catches that train at that time and actually works right next to that Tube station.’ We would grade that as a grade one, for instance, and we would then assign a family liaison officer.
Of course, sadly, all we have identified are the individuals who are brought to the Resilience Mortuary. You will get a time period where, for example, with people who say ‘I think that maybe my husband was on that train or that bus’ and we have not necessarily given a family liaison officer team to those individuals, so you are going to get a time difference. For example, for grade ones in the first nine hours of this incident, you had 458 potential casualties. We knew from fast-time intelligence from the scenes that the likelihood was that we did not have 458 deceased, thankfully, but we still had to make a decision, so there is going to be an information gap. Of course, those are the families that are trying to manage not knowing whether their loved one is or is not at the scenes and naturally they then tend – and I think we would all agree we may well do it ourselves – to gravitate to the hospitals because they are thinking that hopefully their loved one is not deceased but may be in hospital. That is why I would suggest you always get a gravitation to the hospitals.
Obviously, if they have gone to the hospital to find out that they are actually in hospital then that for them is the period when they can start to deal with the particular incident. However, for a few families, because there was no intelligence, and they did not have family liaison officers for some 24 hours, they did not know because of this information gap.
One of the things that we are doing currently and I am leading up on is a review of how we close that information gap. For example, one of the things that helped us greatly was what was in the press. There were a number of montages run by the Daily Mail, I think, and officers actually looked at those montages and might actually see a person they had helped to remove from the scene because they were deceased and that information was relayed fast-time to the mortuary. That is not an identification, but it is some intelligence to be able to deploy a family liaison officer team if one was not already deployed.
Another point is that there were no post mortems at the Resilience Mortuary. They were ‘examinations for cause of death’, and only if the cause of death could not be given by the pathologist would the coroner then separately allow an intrusive post mortem, unless there was some part of a technical device that needed to be removed from the deceased. However, it was only when the examination had happened and the Identification Commission and the coroner were satisfied, and only on four criteria: odontology, which is teeth; finger prints; DNA; or some medical device that was so unique, for example a pacemaker with a serial number, that we were satisfied that, sadly, that individual was deceased.
The next thing to happen immediately after that was a phone call through the family liaison officers to the families to say that, whilst at the beginning on the grade one there was a strong likelihood because of the circumstances, it was only then that you could actually confirm to the family that sadly their loved one was at one of the scenes.
In terms of learning, certainly we are actively looking at our response at the forward reception centres and whether we can we make that quicker and have the information at hand, thereby stopping some of the individuals going to the hospitals. We already had in place hospital liaison: we had liaison between the casualty bureau and hospitals and we have looked at that and it is under review and we have some recommendations to put forward. That is all to try to bring the gap together between ‘I think my loved one is on that train’ to ‘I am sorry, your loved one has been confirmed as dead’. In fact, because of the numbers you have heard from my colleagues, it is actually a very complex and often chaotic situation.
Richard Barnes (Chair): What role does the Family Assistance Centre have?
Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I think the FAC is probably necessary to fulfil the gap and to stop the people, as Peter (Hulme Cross) described, taking photographs around the hospitals that may have received people. I think the FAC is also part of the London Resilience Team’s part of the plan. I do have a member of the MPS, Superintendent Smith, who is attached to the London Resilience Team, who is perhaps more knowledgeable about the arrangements. Perhaps I could call Superintendent Smith to the table.
Peter Smith (Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): I am actually an MPS officer attached to the London Resilience Team. On 8 July, I was employed to assist with the erection of the first FAC. I was not involved in the second stage, so I can only inform you today of the first FAC, which was known as the Intermediate Assistance Centre. Indeed, at the 9pm Gold meeting the police Gold asked myself and a number of other persons, including voluntary agencies and the London Resilience director, to go away and assemble a FAC. We did this by holding a meeting at Westminster City Hall with Peter Rogers, the Chief Executive of the City of Westminster.
We had very few plans to work on at that time. Although there was a plan in draft form, it was not available. We did not have it, and we had to consult with MPS colleagues outside London who had been authors of this plan to give us some guidance. A decision was made at about 11.30pm with the help of Peter Rogers, to go and look at the Queen Mother Sports centre in Victoria and see if that was appropriate. Just after midnight on the Saturday morning, 9 July, a decision was taken by the MPS in consultation with myself and voluntary persons there, particularly the Red Cross, to use the Queen Mother Sports Centre as an interim FAC, bearing in mind that we did not have any logistics at all at that time. We did not have a chair, a carpet or a light. I worked through the night and I have to give great praise to my colleagues in the MPS property services department and indeed the private sector for delivering goods such as chairs and tables etc.
At that time, our aim was to get operational by 2pm on Saturday so that people could come into that centre, such as families who came in with pictures of friends or relatives, and we could process them through the centre. It was a difficult thing to achieve, and again my praise goes to the private sector for getting this done and to the Red Cross and the many voluntary groups, in particular the local authority social services who created a mutual aid group whereby we had a number of social services organisations from different boroughs who worked together as a team. We were up and running just before 2pm; I think it was something like 1.59pm. It was a push but we did it and the first family came through.
Richard Barnes (Chair): You use the phrase of ‘processing them through the centre’, what does that mean?
Peter Smith (Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): That is a poor use of term and forgive me for misleading you. It does sound rather like a factory. A lot of thought goes into that. Forgive me for that. No, it is not being processed; people are treated with respect. Bear in mind that we had never operated this in the UK, so it was all new to the people there, the police, the voluntary services. They responded magnificently. The first time somebody came in they were met by a police officer, who brought them through the security arrangements. We had to use tight security because there would be nothing worse than a terrorist getting in there so, unfortunately, they had to be searched and go through arches, but they were accompanied by an officer and that officer stayed with them.
When they went into the hall they were met by Family Liaison Officers from the appropriate department of the MPS, the Deputy Commissioner’s department, and there they were interviewed. Each was asked a number of questions about their loved ones and their family, and then when that stage was finished they could then move on to voluntary groups and talk to people. They could then receive counselling immediately, not long-term, but they could be given some comfort. They were given refreshments.
Richard Barnes (Chair): If I went to a FAC, I would go there because I was crazy for information. Were you in a position to give people that information?
Peter Smith (Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): That is not always the case, not at all. It is receiving information in, but we can give out information later on. We would not give information out at the centre.
Richard Barnes (Chair): You were like a face-to-face Casualty Bureau?
Peter Smith (Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): Yes, in many ways that is the process. With the information fed back to the Casualty Bureau you actually have a face-to-face rather than using the telephone. You can bring photographs along and DNA can be taken. It is more encompassing than a telephone call.
Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): If I may, Chair, that is part of the review that I was talking about. We are tightening up on that area so that if questions are asked, for instance, ‘I rang the Casualty Bureau two hours ago and now I am here, what can you tell me?’ that is part of what we are learning to bring that gap down so they can get that information, so that they are not necessarily, as you were saying, going to the hospitals.
Sally Hamwee (Deputy Chair): I wanted to say for Members here as much as anyone, that I was extremely impressed by the content of a presentation I saw at the Guildhall conference about both the Resilience Mortuary and the FAC. We have just been communicating about trying to make that available to other Members.
I wonder if I could ask about the FAC, because I very much get the impression that it was far more than processing. In your review of how it worked, are you able maybe to do this even earlier? Are you able to involve some of the families who came and used that service, as it were? I know that there is a lot of debriefing going on but, to my mind, there is nothing that beats the experience of the people who are on the receiving rather than the providing end.
Peter Smith (Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): I am not aware of any plans to consult families. The debrief was held some weeks ago and the FAC was involved in that. At that time, there was no suggestion that families were going to be involved. I take on your point that it would be very useful to talk to them.
Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): With some of the families it was my role, where the family liaison officers needed me to go along, to meet the families of the deceased. I have met some 12-14 of those families, some of whom have difficulties in terms of the length of time involved etc.
It is right to look at some of the feedback which we have received and we will look at it in terms of the functionality of the FAC, and how it would have improved what the families got from it. Indeed, at that stage, they do not necessarily want to talk to people about religion or how they get the body released or how they get criminal injuries compensation. Initially, it is about whether their loved one is on the train or not.
I am part of the review, and I have certainly put in what I have heard personally, but it is something in the future that I will consider. However, it has to be done a little bit diplomatically with some of the families in a sense, because a lot of the families have had closure now since the remembrance service. Certainly, what I have learnt from the families I have met and I have heard through email is that we are listening and we are taking it forward. Next time, we will make sure that is incorporated.
Richard Barnes (Chair): Could it be a ‘one stop shop’, if there is such an expression for this where DNA could be given, or indeed a death certificate if necessary?
Rick Turner (Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service): There is a difference of opinion and it is open to some quite interesting debate at the moment. In
my opinion there is a need for an urgent forward reception point, for instance, where the people asking around hospitals go to, which is about whether they are at the scenes or at hospitals. The FAC is more about the longer term multi-agency, counselling and welfare services, two to three and in fact we still have it four months on, led by the local authority, which is Westminster, as opposed to this shortening of the gap where we need to tell families what the position is with their loved ones. Again, that is part of the review.
Peter Hulme Cross (AM): There is one thing I would like to ask Tim O’Toole, if I might. When the explosions happened and the trains were stuck in the tunnels, we have had reports from people who were in the carriages, that they filled with acrid smoke and so on. Were they in pitch darkness or was there a lighting system which came on as the track power was disrupted.
Tim O’Toole (Managing Director, London Underground): When the traction current goes off, the tunnel lighting system automatically comes on.
Peter Hulme Cross (AM): Therefore, there would not be pitch darkness in there.
Tim O’Toole (Managing Director, London Underground): No.
Peter Hulme Cross (AM): There was a lighting system and so it was possible for the people to go back down the track?
Tim O'Toole (Managing Director, London Underground): However, you can imagine to go from a normal situation to what they faced, with the smoke, the confusion and the fear, your perception would be that you were cut off and in darkness, but in fact the lighting system comes on when the traction current goes off.
Peter Hulme Cross (AM): Of course, the power is disrupted and so it is actually safe to walk down the track?
Tim O’Toole (Managing Director, London Underground): Yes, that is correct.
Peter Hulme Cross (AM): I think there are duckboards that you can walk on in those instances, but it would not be pitch dark because there would be a source of light.
Joanne McCartney (AM): I would like to ask generally what are the main communication lessons that we have learnt from 7 July from your own particular bodies?
Alan Brown (Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Service): I think that all of us are aware of some of the difficulties around communications. It might seem like the smell of new paint to yourselves, but those difficulties are being recognised by ourselves. The cost of overcoming those difficulties is really, really significant. Nevertheless, there are plans in place and have been in place for some while to overcome those and, primarily, a lot of that will be achieved through the acquisition of the Airwave radio system, but it is not something that can be purchased overnight and deployed overnight. It is something that is going to have a pretty significant lead-in time.
Whilst that is going on there are some work-arounds. Yes, they do take time. We have heard that O2 have a timescale in which they can deploy their devices to assist in
communication, but there are clear plans to ensure that the levels of communication are improved, but that is not something that can be done overnight. I do think that we are really cognisant of those difficulties, and will work to ensure that they are overcome.
Joanne McCartney (AM): I have been very reassured today. I suppose I was getting at whether for ordinary Londoners there are any communication lessons that you have learnt about getting information out there.
Chris Townsend (Director of Marketing, Transport for London): I think that one of lessons we have learnt is the importance of the websites, and making sure they are updated frequently throughout the entire day, and making sure we have enough resilience to keep the sites up and running.
The other lessons we learnt and touched on earlier was the sending out of emails. We actually sent out 600,000 emails between 3pm and 5pm on 7 July, and we had over 50% of those opened within an hour. We had literally thousands of emails coming back from people thanking us for that information. We believe the combination of the websites and the emails is going to be a very important part of our communications strategy to customers in the future.
Dick Fedorcio (Director of Public Affairs, Metropolitan Police Service): Can I just add to that from our perspective? I think that the key lesson that I would take out of the events of 7 July was the preparation that had gone in during the previous three to four years amongst the communicators in the capital paid off. There is no doubt that what we achieved over 7 July and the following days was a pretty stunning performance. It was a difficult bit of territory for us all; it was fast-moving and it was challenging, but I think that the relationship that came out of it amongst the communicators is something that one can build on. In addition, the relationship that came with the media working on it as well. I have never seen in my career the sort of letters that we were receiving afterwards from the media saying that they thought it went pretty well, and that is quite important. Nevertheless, we are not complacent and we know there is more we can do next time.
Richard Barnes (Chair): Would you agree?
James Flynn (Head of Communications, London Fire Brigade): Absolutely. The arrangements worked very well. The communications for the Gold arrangements worked well and we are building on those. Generally, we feel that it all worked well on the day and afterwards.
Sally Hamwee (Deputy Chair): This leads on quite nicely from the point Dick (Fedorcio) has just made because we have all heard this message loud and clear that the preparation paid off, I just wondered whether you would like to use this opportunity to confirm publicly that keeping up the level of preparation, planning, exercises, and all of that, and as I have heard, but not perhaps so much today, the fact that so many people knew so many other people within organisations, that that helped hugely.
All of that takes money, so if you would like to use us to confirm that that needs funding we are happy to hear that message and to include it in our conclusions. You can all say: ‘Yes.’
Richard Barnes (Chair): None of you are shaking your heads.
Абдурахманов М. И., Баришполец В. А., Манилов В. Л., Пирумов В. С. Геополитика и национальная безопасность. Словарь основных терминов...
Български), Volume XXIV ukranian (Украiська) and Volume XXV belarusian (Беларуская)