Sunday 19 November 2017

Westminster faces fresh scrutiny after video shows gates 'wide open and unmanned' in immediate aftermath of terror attack

Police leave flowers outside parliament in London in tribute to the victims of Khalid Masood Picture: PA
Police leave flowers outside parliament in London in tribute to the victims of Khalid Masood Picture: PA
President Michael D Higgins signs a book of condolence at the British embassy in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Candle lights on Westminster Bridge, where the terror attack took place. Photo: AP
Staci R. Martin pictured posing for a photo next to Police Officer Keith Palmer outside the Houses of Parliament in London shortly before he was killed in an attack in Westminster while on duty at Parliament when he was stabbed to death. (Claire Thorogood via the AP)
Australian Andrew Thorogood, 41, and daughters Alexsandra, 12, and Georgia, 9, with Pc Keith Palmer in October 2016 Photo: Andrew Thorogood/PA Wire
Enda Kenny signing a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster terror attack at the British Embassy in Dublin (Irish government/PA)
The message left by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster terror attack (Irish government/PA)
President Michael D Higgins and French Ambassador to Ireland Jean Pierre Thebault who signed a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster attacks in London on Wednesday. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
President Michael D Higgins and French Ambassador to Ireland Jean Pierre Thebault who signed a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster attacks in London on Wednesday. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
President Michael D Higgins who signed a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster attacks in London on Wednesday. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Taoiseach Enda Kenny who signed a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster attacks in London on Wednesday. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Taoiseach Enda Kenny who signed a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster attacks in London on Wednesday. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Taoiseach Enda Kenny who signed a Book of Condolence for the victims of the Westminster attacks in London on Wednesday. Pic:Mark Condren 24.3.2017
Armed police secure the area across the road from the Palace of Westminster after Westminster bridge reopened (Image: Getty Images)
A police officer holding flowers on Westminster Bridge in London
Emergency services bid to save the life of Khalid Masood after his murderous terror attack was ended by an armed policeman at the Palace of Westminster, London
A young girl lights a candle during a candlelit vigil at Trafalgar Square. Photo: GETTY
Injured Travis Frain. Photo: PA
Westminster attacker Khalid Masood receives treatment after being shot during the attack. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Emergency personnel on Westminster Bridge following yesterday's attack. Photo: PA
Spanish teacher Aysha Frade, who was the first named victim of the spree. Photos: AP
Emergency services transporting an injured person to an ambulance, close to the Houses of Parliament in London. Photo: AP
A police officer leaving flowers at the scene of the atrocity. Photo: PA
Police Constable Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death by terrorist Khalid Masood at the British Parliament. Photo: PA
A floral tribute laid on Westminster Bridge yesterday. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Jack Hardy

Parliamentary security is facing fresh scrutiny after a video showed its gates were left open and apparently unmanned in the immediate wake of Wednesday's attack.

The footage, captured by The Times, shows the aftermath of the assault on New Palace Yard which left Pc Keith Palmer mortally wounded.

As armed officers swarm the cobbled forecourt having shot dead terrorist Khalid Masood, the imposing iron gate which allows vehicles to enter can be seen wide open.

No police officers are visible guarding the entry point, known as Carriage Gates, fuelling concern the attack might have been worse had Masood been followed by accomplices.

Pedestrians are shown walking past and at one stage a courier on a moped appears to enter unchallenged.

Yards away, separate footage showed Theresa May being rushed from the building and into a waiting car.

Although the gate was open for a matter of minutes, critics will use the brief security lapse to rebuke claims on Friday by Scotland Yard's anti-terror chief that current arrangements were "proportionate".

Mark Rowley told reporters that procedures for guarding Parliament had been designed so they were not "overly intrusive".

"Our current arrangements have been developed with Parliament over many years and are designed to provide access to the seat of our government balanced with security that is proportionate but not overly intrusive," he said.

Parliament's main entrance has two sets of large metal gates allowing vehicles to go in and out of the estate and they have traditionally been left open during the day.

Police leave flowers outside parliament in London in tribute to the victims of Khalid Masood Picture: PA
Police leave flowers outside parliament in London in tribute to the victims of Khalid Masood Picture: PA

A pair of smaller, makeshift gates was introduced more recently with two police officers at each to check passes and allow cyclists, cars and delivery drivers to come and go.

Just inside the entrance gate, armed police are usually present and an unarmed officer sits in a booth by the exit.

Candle lights on Westminster Bridge, where the terror attack took place. Photo: AP
Candle lights on Westminster Bridge, where the terror attack took place. Photo: AP

Electronic ramps are depressed and barriers lifted further into the courtyard after passes are checked using handheld machines which flash up with a picture of the passholder.

More police, some armed, are usually present after the final checkpoint.

Press Association

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