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Project Servator, a policing tactic that aims to disrupt a range of crime, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the public, today (Wednesday 10 February) marks seven years since it was pioneered by City of London Police (CoLP). Professional Security magazine has followed Servator from the beginning – featuring its use at One New Change shopping centre near St Paul’s Cathedral in our May 2014 issue, then at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the summer of 2014; around Sellafield nuclear power station, and since rolled out further by the 100pc armed Civil Nuclear Constabulary; and at rail stations, shopping centres, and elsewhere.
More than 300 people at 21 organisations in the Square Mile have been trained to spot suspicious activity, and report it during lockdown. Due to covid-19 restrictions, the See Check and Notify (SCaN) training was delivered remotely from March 2020 by Counter Terrorism Security Advisers at CoLP, who work with residents, businesses and visitors to encourage them to report anything that doesn’t feel right.
The training means that there are now another 300 pairs of eyes and ears watching out for the signs of potential crime across the City, in addition to the force’s unpredictable policing deployments under Servator.
Briefly, Servator aims to disrupt hostile reconnaissance – the information gathering terrorists and other criminals need to do to plan their action. Officers are specially-trained to spot the tell-tale signs that someone may be gathering information to help them plan or prepare to commit a crime. Since it was introduced in the Square Mile in 2014, 23 other police forces, plus other partner agencies, across the UK and beyond have adopted the approach, including New South Wales Police Force in Australia and Royal Gibraltar Police.
Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland is City of London Police and National Policing Lead for Project Servator. He said: “At the start of the pandemic, none of us could have imagined how it would impact every aspect of our lives. There may be a different look and feel to the City at the moment, but we all need to remember that the threat of terrorism has not gone away.
“From the many conversations we have had with security staff, businesses and residents, it’s clear that everyone is looking forward to the City getting back to business as usual. For now, it’s vital that people follow the rules and stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. But as we look ahead to a time when restrictions can be safely eased, the training that’s been delivered during lockdown will help continue to keep the Square Mile safe and secure. More people will be on the lookout for suspicious activity, and they will play a vital role in making it a difficult place for terrorists and other criminals to operate.
“One of our mantras is “Communities Defeat Terrorism”. We know we can’t do this alone and we are grateful for the support of our partners and the public to keep the City safe. To everyone who has reported suspicious activity, and those who have completed training to better safeguard themselves, their colleagues and their businesses, thank you for your contribution and we look forward to continuing to work with you.
“Remember, if you see or hear something unusual or suspicious, trust your instincts and in an emergency always dial 999. Alternatively, report it in confidence at gov.uk/ACT or on 0800 789 321.”
Chris Earlie, Head of Tower Bridge, whose staff have been trained, said: “The past year has provided an important reminder of the need to prioritise continued vigilance, during a period where it would have been easy for security considerations to take ‘second billing’.
“SCaN continues to be an integral feature used by us to maximise our onsite resilience, and most importantly, to help ensure consistency across a wide range of disciplines. SCaN has provided our staff and managers with the tools to identify suspicious behaviour and the best courses of action to take when reporting it.”
More about Servator on the CoLP website.