London: Learning lessons from the Mumbai
attacks which were launched from sea, Britain is setting up a
National Maritime Information Centre (NMIC) to scan for
terrorist strikes from any of the thousands of small boats
that arrive on its shores every year.
The Labour government yesterday announced its updated
security preparedness to prevent and deal with terrorist
attacks based on chemical, biological, radiological and
"The Government is putting in place a package of
enhanced nuclear security measures to demonstrate the UK's
commitment to tacking the threat of nuclear terrorism and to
encourage other nations to follow suit," Prime Minister Gordon
Brown said in a statement.
The NMIC is also expected to scan and provide
information on potential threats to the sailing events in the
The monitoring centre will involve the navy, customs,
the UK Border Agency, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and
Lord West, security minister, said: "Things like the
attack on Mumbai and the forthcoming Olympics in 2012 made us
realise we needed to look at the maritime domain more closely.
We have this mass of agencies all of whom have a certain
responsibility for affairs at sea, particularly close to our
The British government's latest threat analysis says
that the country is at risk from terrorists who could travel
into London or other major cities by speed boat.
The NMIC is scheduled to be operations in autumn this
Lord West admitted there were hundreds of thousands
of small boats arriving in Britain unchecked every year.
It is feared that ships or speed boats could sail
into major cities such as London, Bristol, Liverpool,
Newcastle, Glasgow or Belfast to launch their attacks.
Lord West said: "I think the public would be surprised
to discover that we do not know about every single contact
with a vessel."
He said that the various agencies responsible for
guarding the coastline did not know "with any clarity what is
going on around our coasts."
"The sharing of information has not been as good as it
should be. I think the British public would be surprised to
realise that we don't know what every single contact is off
our coast ? and the reason is the number of people who are
looking at these things. I believe this is a huge step forward
that will really enable us to get to grips with this issue,"
First Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 13:56