There is no cause for panic over our security precautions

Share

So far the performance of our public services has been good on most major disaster incidents. That is no reason for complacency, of course; procedures must be constantly reviewed and funding may well need to be increased.

Britain is not equipped to defend itself against an 11 September-style attack, says the Commons Defence Committee. The Government believes the balance of its security structures are right, replied Tony Blair in Prime Minister's Questions yesterday.

Normally that would be enough to have us all fleeing to the bomb shelters, on the simple principle that whenever a minister expresses him or herself satisfied with safety, you know the worst is going to happen.

And, indeed, the Defence Committee does make some worrying points about the lack of co-ordination and full revision of procedures since 11 September. The awful lessons of the poor communications between police and fire departments in New York in the immediate aftermath of the attack should be written on the heart of every public service across the Atlantic.

But to suggest, as the committee does, that we need a whole raft of new laws and a "strong central authority" headed by a cabinet minister to co-ordinate the work of various departments is to get carried away with the drama of September. Unlike the US, Britain has had 30 years' experience of dealing with terrorism, including direct mortar attacks on Number 10, the bombing of a hotel being used by the Prime Minister and much of the Cabinet, and the attempted destruction of the Stock Exchange.

The lesson, as we have learned, is that the greatest priority has to be given to intelligence and prevention. Nine-eleven presents huge challenges but – for obvious reasons – little information by which to judge performance. It is the attacks avoided that matter – and those we rarely know about.

The response to an attack from al-Qa'ida, on the other hand, is no different in practice from the reaction to an IRA outrage, or even a civilian disaster. So far the performance of the public services has been good on most major disaster incidents. That is no reason for complacency, of course; procedures must be constantly reviewed. Funding may well need to be increased. What we do not need, however, is more ministers, another expensive department and a bigger Cabinet.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine