‘Intimidating’ armed guards removed from Parliament gate
Armed guards were removed from the Parliamentary gate where PC Keith Palmer was murdered because MPs found them “intimidating”, it has been reported.
Police sources told the Times the fixed armed position at Carriage Gates were replaced by a mobile firearms patrol at some point over the last two years.
This was confirmed by the Parliamentary security sources, but they claimed police had been moved because of fears a static armed guard would be vulnerable to attack.
Speculation has mounted that Wednesday’s terror attack on Westminster could have been averted quicker had armed guards been on Carriage Gates.
Police and the parliamentary authorities have promised a security review after the attack, but it was also announced that Carriage Gates would reopen on Monday and “access to the parliamentary estate will return to normal”.
MPs have also voiced concerns that attacker Khalid Masood was shot dead by a minister’s police close protection officer who happened to be in the vicinity.
Masood stabbed officer Keith Palmer before he managed to run through the courtyard before making his way to the members’ entrance of the Commons, before he was gunned down.
“This was a fixed point but that changed following political pressure,” one source said.
“They wanted a traditional British bobby on the gate; they wanted that image — but this is a sensitive security area. If there had been two armed officers on the gates then they would have taken the shot. Thank God there was only one nutter in that car.”
Another source said: “Complaints from MPs led to the firearms officers being taken away from the gate. There used to be armed officers permanently alongside unarmed officers who operated the gate.”
The Met’s top anti-terror officer, Mark Rowley, confirmed there would be an overhaul of existing Parliamentary security procedures.
He explained: “Our current arrangements have been developed with Parliament over many years and are designed to provide access to the seat of our government, balanced carefully with security that is proportionate but not overly intrusive.
“Of course after an incident like this, as would be expected, my team will work with parliamentary authorities to assess whether a different tone or balance is necessary.”