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Further reading






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London case study


The development of the 'Ring of Steel' around the financial centre(s) of London is an unique case. The ring is a consequence of the political background of the financial centre (the city of London is just a small district in greater London, but completely autonomous and its goverment is chosen from among the businesses in the district), the economical importance to the British state of the area and the willingness of the IRA to attack these economical targets again and again.

The ring of steel is seen as an example across the globe. New York is planning its own ring of steel around Manhattan, China is installing a more elaborate system and more and more goverments are seeking similar systems to protect their cities. But as shown by the attacks of 7/7/2006 the London measures are not capable of stopping suicide attackers.

These diagrams are based on the book: Terrorism, Risk and the City - Jon Coaffee.

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What will the future bring?

All over the world London is seen as the example for dealing with terrorism. But the case of London also shows that enhancing security by introducing zones, checkpoints etc, inevitable lead to the overall implementation of these strategies. Started as extremely localized measures they evolved into a system that covers the city completely.

Yet as we saw on 7/7/2005 and 21/7/2005 this approach does not prevent all terror attacks. You can do very little against suicide terrorists. In response to this the general public is asked to be vigilant and report any suspiscious behavior. Demostrating in front of the parlement or number 10 downing street is prohibited. The security zones are getting larger and less is accepted in them. Where will it end?

    The beginning Shutting down the center Roving police controls Security zones with extra CCTV Current situation: Congestion charging  
        From the seventies onwards the IRA took their struggle to the British mainland. They started targeting the (international) financial center in London. The IRA thus focussed on causing economic damage. As a response the city of London used street closures, manned checkpoints, no stopping/parking policies in the most targeted area. This approach was used succesfully in Belfast around the main shopping district. The IRA responded by finding new targets very close to the exclusion zone.

People working/ living close to the perimeter of the exclusion zone demand more security. They feel unsafe since attacks are more likely in their area. The police gets new powers around the exclusion zone to combat and prevent the IRA attacks there. This means roving checkpoints, security checks and more powers to search suspicous persons. As a response the IRA also started attacking other economic hot spots in London (such as Canary Wharf) and other major cities such as Manchester (where they blew up half the city center with a gaint truck bomb).

In response to succesfull attacks in these area's a new policy is advocated: The city encourages private companies to install CCTV systems. The city itself installs CCTV systems at the entry points into the security zone. The system scans the licenseplate, and films the driver and passenger when they enter the zone.It became much easier to trace the steps of terrorists before they planted a bomb. This is effective against the IRA, since the IRA did not use suicidebombers. Avoiding detection and thus being able to strike again was important.

Mainly advocated as an enviromental measure London implemented a congestion charging scheme. This means every car entering London has its licenseplate scanned and its passengers (and driver) recorded. As we' ve seen before this scheme already existed for the security zone and makes it possible to know which cars are in the city at any given time and who was/ is in them.