ATbar Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland – ICT16

Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland – ICT16

13/09/2016 | by Sutherland, Alistair (Asst. Comm.)  

“Evolving to Meet New Threats” – City of London Police”

Assistant Commissioner Alistair Sutherland, Assistant Commissioner, City of London Police, United Kingdom

The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Assistant Commissioner Sutherland discussed the history of City of London policing, with an emphasis on terror attacks. After describing the wave of IRA attacks and the July 2005 bombings, Sutherland described four projects currently active in the City of London including the 4P project and the Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order.


The presentation by Assistant Commissioner Sutherland showed new approaches to prevent and combat terrorism. He traced the history of the City of London policing duties over the past thirty years with a special emphasis on the IRA attacks from 1973 to 1993. Sutherland also explained the new programs to secure the City of London, which was in past target of terrorist attacks mainly because it is the financial center with a busy touristic flow.

The City of London has only 1.2 square miles in its jurisdiction, but it contains a highly important financial center in the heart of London. The number of residents is modest, just 11,000 people. Nevertheless, more than 400,000 people come to work there on a daily basis. The busy feeling of the city is also due to almost 9 million annual visitors. For that reason, the City of London uses high security measures to protect its people and visitors.

Going back to the history of the attacks which took place in the heart of London, Sutherland specified the attacks in the period from 1973 to 1993. In total, 19 attacks occurred in the City of London. Most of them were perpetrated by the IRA using, for instance, timers, grenades, and incendiary explosives. In April 1993, known as Bishops Bombing, a truck bomb was detonated in the financial center, killing one person.

In response, the Ring of Steel was introduced in 1993. The Ring of Steel strategy is based on 30 street blocks with 8 entry check points and 24/7 CCTV. Since that time, the police have noticed significant successes with this program up until the 2005 attack. On July 7th, 2005, an Al-Qaeda inspired terrorist group, known as the 7/7 bombers, detonated a suicide bomb on the public transportation in London. Another attack occurred on July 21st, 2005. June 2007 saw the last coordinated attacks in the City of London, as a vehicle bomb detonated in the night club Tiger-Tiger. Following that, low level, uncoordinated, attacks by individuals have dominated.

In his speech, Sutherland chose a relevant quote by Charles Darwin which can be applied to countering terrorism, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” In order to explain more about the adaptation of counter terrorism strategies, Assistant Commissioner Sutherland presented several projects which are currently ongoing at the City of London such as the Ring of Steel, 4P Strategy, Project Griffin, ATTRO, and Project Servator. Finally, he emphasized the importance of technology and human assets.

Projects in City of London

  • 4P Strategy: Prevent, pursue, protect, prepare

  • Project Griffin began in City of London in 2004. The project promotes security partnership between business community and police

  • ATTRO (Anti Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order) includes barriers and checkpoints. These measures offer the possibility to close down roads and streets when needed.

  • Project Servator, introduced in 2012, is the "appliance of science to influence and detect criminal and terrorist behavior in our public places". Project Servator includes unpredictable, highly visible, deployment of police officers, supported by community engagement and public relations, in an attempt to deter and detect criminal and terrorist activity while simultaneously reassuring the public in these areas of deployment. While including this visible aspect, Project Servator also utilizes behind-the-scenes, covert, action.