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Project Servator, the UK policing tactic used to deter, detect and disrupt terrorism and other crime – began officially operating across London on Thursday, April 5.
The tactic began in the Square Mile since 2014, and the Metropolitan Police launched two pilot teams in November 2016. The Met launched further teams, so that the whole of London, including London City Airport and Heathrow Airport, will be covered.
Project Servator sees the deployment of both highly visible and covert police officers, supported by other resources such as dogs, Mounted Branch, firearms officers, vehicle checkpoints, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and CCTV. Police explain that the deployments can happen anywhere, and at any time, and include police officers trained to spot the tell-tale signs of people who may have criminal intent.
The new Met teams will work with colleagues from the City of London Police, British Transport Police (BTP) and the Ministry of Defence Police to carry out deployments across the capital, including busy areas such as shopping centres, tourist attractions and transport hubs. Pictured is a tourist posing for a photo in front of the statue of Churchill in a corner of Parliament Square, yesterday morning while a Servator deployment was around the Square; in the middle ground are Met and BTP officers at entrances to Westminster Tube station, part of the deployment.
Supt Nick Aldworth, Head of the Met’s Project Servator teams, said: “Working with the community is a vital part of making Project Servator a success, and record numbers of people have been contacting the police to report suspicious activity. Every day, Project Servator officers will enlist the help of businesses, security staff, community groups and members of the public to be vigilant and make it even harder for criminals, including terrorists, to succeed. By being vigilant, we can all create a hostile environment for potential terrorists who may be considering their targets and for individuals looking to commit crime.
“The public shouldn’t be worried if a deployment happens in their area. In fact, I encourage anyone to talk to the officers to find out more. The public can help keep their community safe from terrorism by reporting anything that seems out of place, unusual, or doesn’t seem to fit with day-to-day life.”
The Met give the case from October 2017, when Servator officers were deployed at the Changing of the Guard; they stopped a vehicle after becoming suspicious of the driver. Officers identified that he had no car insurance and was in possession of a bank card in a name different to his own. The officers arrested him and searched his home address in Westminster, recovering a machine used to fraudulently print bank cards.
Since February 2018, the Ministry of Defence Police have been carrying out deployments in and around Whitehall. They also have Project Servator teams operating at the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites in Berkshire and at Portsmouth Naval Base.
Supt Helen Isaac, of the National Project Servator Team based at the City of London Police, said: “Project Servator has been adopted by eight UK police forces since it was launched by City of London Police in 2014, with more to follow in 2018. Officers have made arrests on suspicion of a wide range of offences and have taken drugs and weapons, including firearms and knives off the streets, seized uninsured vehicles and located wanted criminals. Hundreds of pieces of intelligence about criminal activity have been gathered and shared across policing.
“Thank you to everyone who has worked with us and helped to make Project Servator an effective policing tactic.”
More words and pictures in the May 2018 print issue of Professional Security magazine.
For more on Servator visit the City of London Police website.