Gibraltar steps up roadside security measures
Retractable bollards will be installed to block off key access roads leading to Main Street and Casemates Square in the wake of recent terror attacks, the Chronicle understands.
Officials have been working on the measure for some time and are now in the advanced stages of planning ahead of implementation.
Installing the bollards will require extensive work including installation of underground electrical wiring and will take some months.
As an interim measure, roads will be sealed off as necessary with temporary concrete barriers around big public events, senior officials said.
On Sunday, the southern end of the pedestrianised section of Main Street was blocked off by an RGP control van.
The security measures were discussed at a meeting yesterday of the Gibraltar Contingency Council [GCC] in the wake of the terrorist attack in London on Saturday night.
Although there is no intelligence of any specific threat against Gibraltar, officials here are keen to take additional steps to mitigate against the sort of attacks seen in London and elsewhere involving terrorists using vehicles to run down pedestrians.
“Having reviewed the shocking events of last night in London, the GCC agreed that Gibraltar’s threat level would remain at ‘substantial’ as there was no specific intelligence regarding any increase in the terrorist threat to Gibraltar,” the GCC said in a statement.
“A ‘substantial’ threat level means that an attack is a strong possibility.”
“Both the RGP and GDP will continue to adjust their operational profiles in line with optimising their ability to protect the people of Gibraltar.”
“This will include the ongoing increased presence of armed officers on the streets.”
In the days ahead, the GCC said it would ensure that Gibraltar’s counter-terrorist strategy and contingent capabilities and procedures are developed in step with those of the UK “as appropriate”.
The GCC meeting was held in The Convent yesterday morning and was jointly chaired by the Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
Officials and ministers met in the Governor’s office to review the latest developments in London, breaking their discussions to watch Prime Minister Theresa May deliver a statement on the attack from outside Downing Street.
Flags flew at half-mast over official buildings as from 9am yesterday morning and will remain so until further notice.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo wrote to both Mrs may and to London mayor Sadiq Khan yesterday to express condolences on behalf of the people of Gibraltar and the Government of Gibraltar.
He said the thoughts of this community were once again with those who had lost loved ones and who were injured in the horror of Saturday’s events.
“This is the third terrorist attack in four months in the United Kingdom and no less shocking and atrocious as a result,” he said.
“Coming barely two weeks since the attacks on Manchester these mindless attacks are no less despicable.”
“The perpetrators are no more than senseless murderers who see to disrupt the freedom with which we live our lives.”
“They will not succeed, but we will all understand the need to be vigilant to ensure that the emergency services have the tools and resources necessary to curtail such criminal activity when possible.”
He added: “London is a city with which all of Gibraltar will have strong links. Institutionally, it is the source of our democracy, the seat of the mother of Parliaments and the home of much of the business that creates our common prosperity.”
“For many individuals it is the home of relatives, a city which has hosted our education and the pivotal point through which we connect to the rest of the United Kingdom and the world. London is the place where Gibraltarians were evacuated in the Second World War and the place where many before have endured terrorist bombings for other causes irrationally pursued by violence.”
“It is the greatest city in the world and it will not be cowed by criminals with nothing to lose but their lives.”
Mr Picardo also praised the bravery and professionalism of emergency responders.
“When the chips are down, we rely on our blue light and emergency first responders to be the ones to resolve these dangerous situations and save lives as their training comes to the fore on each occasion,” he said.
Today, we are all Londoners standing resolute against these criminals. Guns and bombs can break our bones, but terrorists will never beat us.”
The GSD was also quick to condemn the London attacks and send a message of solidarity to the UK.
“The people of Gibraltar will be as appalled as the rest of the democratic world at the cowardly attack on innocent Londoners last night,” said GSD leader Daniel Feetham.
“The Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed a sweeping review of Britain’s counterterrorism strategy to try to reduce or eliminate Islamic radicalism and the safe spaces it needs to breed. We wish her well in what will surely be a monumental task.”
“It is, however, a task and objective which is not only necessary but which every peace loving nation should be working together to achieve.”
“For the moment, today is a day of mourning and prayers for the victims and their loved ones.”
“On behalf of the GSD I offer all those affected and all Londoners our heartfelt condolences.”
Main photo by Stephen Ignacio.