Vertical Markets

Servator at rail stations

by Mark Rowe

We love rush hour – it gives us 300,000 extra pairs of eyes. So say British Transport Police (BTP), the latest force to launch Project Servator. Over the last couple of years we’ve featured Servator, a way of patrolling to counter terrorism and other crime.

We’ve featured it three times: from the City of London; Glasgow, before the 2014 Commonwealth Games; and now King’s Cross. More in the January 2016 print issue of Professional Security.

Briefly to recap, it’s a way of deploying ‘assets’ – uniformed and plain-clothes officers, including covert; dogs (the spaniels that sniff out explosives, or the German Shepherd ‘bitey’ sort), firearms officers, CCTV – at unpredictable times and places to make the criminals nervous, whether terrorists seeking to carry out hostile reconnaissance, bag thieves or pick-pockets. Officers, A-boards (pictured) and messages on Network Rail and Transport for London digital signage are all aimed at getting the Servator message across.

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Steve Thomas said: “For members of the public, this could mean you see a highly visible presence of officers at your station more often. We will turn up unannounced at railway stations to carry out patrols. They could happen at any time, last for different amounts of time and involve varying numbers of officers and resources. The key to deterring, detecting and disrupting crime on the network is making our deployments unpredictable.

“Don’t be surprised or alarmed if you see a Project Servator deployment being carried out at your station. Our officers are there to keep you safe.

“You can play a vital role by being vigilant when you are travelling and reporting anything that doesn’t feel right, for example an unattended item or someone acting suspiciously. Don’t leave it to someone else to report it.”

Transport Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad said: “Our foremost priority is the safety of the British public. These new high visibility police patrols will provide security and reassurance for all travellers. British Transport Police and railway staff play a vital role in preventing criminal activity on the network and it is important we work together to ensure security measures across the network are up to date.”

Some background

Servator was introduced by City of London Police, who first adopted the approach in early 2014, aimed at further protecting the City and reinforcing the so-called ‘ring of steel’. It was also used during the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow by Police Scotland and partners in the summer of 2014, featured in the July to September 2014 print issues of Professional Security.

BTP carried out test deployments at three London stations in September 2015: at Waterloo, Euston and Paddington. At the same time, the authorities surveyed 734 station users to find out whether the deployments achieved one of their aims, namely to reassure the public. Some 78pc of respondents agreed that they felt reassured by the deployments; 64pc said they would be more likely to report unattended items and suspicious behaviour as a result.

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