London's Strategic Emergency Plan

By Rob Last edited 158 months ago
London's Strategic Emergency Plan

As we all know, a terrorist attack on London is "inevitable", which probably means we should be prepared for it.

Thank the Lord then for London Resilience. They may sound like a vigilante guerilla group but they are actually the "strategic partnership that is working to ensure London is prepared for major incidents or catastrophes".

The group have recently published their Emergency Plan (PDF document) for the city in case of attack, and it turns out that it's slightly more detailed than "All Londoners please leave by the nearest exit and congregate in the Asda carpark".

Here's a few excerpts:

There are different types of emergency apparently, most of which sound like the titles of straight-to-video Charlie Sheen films:

"Sudden Impact - This type of event or situation happens with little or no prior warning. The effects are usually felt immediately and include transportation accidents, utility failure, industrial accidents or acts of terrorism etc.

Rising Tide - This type of event or situation has a lead in time of days, weeks or even months and includes health pandemics, flooding, foot and mouth disease, industrial action etc. The onset can be gradual and the final impact may not always be apparent early on."

There is, you'll be glad to know, a provision for requesting military aid in the event of a "Catastrophic Indicent", however:

"Military resources are not specifically set aside for assisting in a Catastrophic Incident. So any assistance will depend on what assets are available at the time."

Knowing our luck the army will be on a training exercise on the Norfolk Broads the day the shit hits the fan.

And what about Ken?

"The Mayor of London will act as the ‘voice of London’ in order to provide clear information and guidance to London’s population."

Ken as the "voice of London"? We can't decide if that's a good or a bad thing.

And finally on to the really scary stuff: mass evacuation.

"Mass evacuation will take place by the use of public and private transport. The underground, bus and rail networks will be utilised."

Oh crap. We're all doomed. Doomed I tell ya!

"Underground services will arrive empty and pick up at the identified stations and then take passengers non stop to the outer zone Rail Heads. Underground services will not run through the suspended area, (even empty), and they operate at frequencies no greater than those typical during off – peak times."

Great, what happens if all hell breaks loose on a Sunday evening, will we have to wait 9 minutes at Whitechapel to be evacuated?

There are 46 pages of this stuff over at the London Resilience site if you're interested. Although watching Towering Inferno, Earthquake, and...erm, The Swarm back to back might be just as useful and much more entertaining.

Last Updated 17 March 2005


You know, this kind of official advice is absolutely meaningless. It's like the "Protect and Survive" leafletsthey issued in the 1980s. It has two prime purposes:

1. To reassure people that Something Is Being Done

2. To try and stave off panic in the event of a catastrophe - an utterly vain attempt, but you can understand why they would try. "Darling, the terrorists have just set off an Anthrax bomb outside." "Really? I'll see if I can find that leaflet from the Home Office." Right.

To put it another way: if the terrorists are planning this "inevitable" attack on London, do you think the government would dream of publishing its real contingency plans, if any exist? Of course not. This is a public relations exercise.

Heavens, the authorities can't handle New Year's Eve in London successfully, and that happens every year; how do you think they would deal with an anthrax bomb?


This kind of thing always makes me thing of Ray Briggs When the wind blows...and then I start to cry.


I was thinking of Threads. It still scares the bejeebus out of me. You'd never guess we were the children of the nuclear scares of the 1980s, would you?


"Protect & Survive" online:


There's a great London based movie from 1950 called SEVEN DAYS TO NOON in which a scientist blackmails the government with an atomic bomb. It has a great evacuation scene where one poor urchin is told he can't take his pet chicken on a double decker bus.

Harrowing stuff.