Project Servator - a policing tactic used to deter, detect and disrupt terrorism and a range of other criminality - will be operating across the entirety of London from Thursday, 5 April.
The tactic is already active in various parts of London, including in the Square Mile since 2014, and the Met launched two pilot teams in November 2016. Today, the Met is launching a number of additional teams, so that the whole of London, including London City Airport and Heathrow Airport, will be covered.
Project Servator sees the deployment of both highly visible and covert police officers, supported by other resources such as dogs, Mounted Branch, firearms officers, vehicle checkpoints, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and CCTV. The deployments can happen anywhere, and at any time, and include police officers specially-trained to spot the tell-tale signs of individuals who may have criminal intent.
The tactics used have been developed and tested by security experts at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) in partnership with the City of London Police.
The new Met teams will work in partnership with hundreds of colleagues from the City of London Police, British Transport Police (BTP) and the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) to carry out deployments across the capital, including busy areas such as shopping centres, tourist attractions and transport hubs.
Superintendent Nick Aldworth, Head of the Met’s Project Servator teams, said: “Working with the community is a vital part of making Project Servator a success, and record numbers of people have been contacting the police to report suspicious activity.
“Every day, Project Servator officers will enlist the help of businesses, security staff, community groups and members of the public to be vigilant and make it even harder for criminals, including terrorists, to succeed. By being vigilant, we can all create a hostile environment for potential terrorists who may be considering their targets and for individuals looking to commit crime.
“The public shouldn’t be worried if a deployment happens in their area. In fact, I encourage anyone to talk to the officers to find out more. The public can help keep their community safe from terrorism by reporting anything that seems out of place, unusual, or doesn’t seem to fit with day-to-day life.”
The public is urged to report any suspicious activity or behaviour to a police officer, member of security staff, or to call local police on 101. Alternatively, report it online at gov.uk/ACT. In an emergency, always call 999.
Since the Met launched its pilot teams in 2016, its Project Servator officers have gathered more than 500 pieces of intelligence about suspected criminal activity and conducted more than 550 searches, leading to 176 arrests for various offences including firearms and weapons offences, drugs, money laundering, robbery and theft.
In one case, in October 2017, Met Project Servator officers who were deployed at the Changing of the Guard stopped a vehicle after becoming suspicious of the driver. Officers identified that he had no car insurance and was in possession of a bank card in a name different to his own. The officers arrested him and searched his home address in Westminster, recovering a machine used to fraudulently print bank cards, 25 blank cards and £1,500 in cash. They also discovered documentation detailing victims’ bank details. The Project Servator team worked with local detectives from Westminster Borough and the man was subsequently charged with possessing articles for use in fraud and driving with no insurance. He was convicted and sentenced to 16 months in prison, and banned from driving for 12 months.
Since Project Servator was first pioneered in the Square Mile in 2014, the City of London Police have conducted 938 searches leading to 547 arrests. A further 233 vehicles have been seized and 174 drug warnings handed out.
On the rail network, British Transport Police have made 102 arrests since March 2017 – most in London – as a result of Project Servator deployments. In that time, they found 15 people wanted on warrant, recovered seven offensive weapons and gathered over 350 pieces of intelligence about suspected criminal activity.
Since February 2018, the Ministry of Defence Police have been carrying out deployments in and around Whitehall. They also have Project Servator teams operating at the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites in Berkshire and at Portsmouth Naval Base.
Superintendent Helen Isaac, of the National Project Servator Team based at the City of London Police, said: “Project Servator has been adopted by eight UK police forces since it was launched by City of London Police in 2014, with more to follow in 2018.
“Officers have made arrests on suspicion of a wide range of offences and have taken drugs and weapons, including firearms and knives off the streets, seized uninsured vehicles and located wanted criminals. Hundreds of pieces of intelligence about criminal activity have been gathered and shared across policing.
“Thank you to everyone who has worked with us and helped to make Project Servator an effective policing tactic.”