Brit experts meet city's guardians to find better security solutions

With security having become a matter of high priority across the globe, nations must put their heads together and think of new and more sophisticated means to fight terror. On Thursday, a delegation of specialists from the UK was in the city to talk about the methods the country uses to tackle terrorism. They spoke at length on the way in which they ensured a smooth run at the London Olympics last year.

The 15-member delegation from the United Kingdom Security Trade and Investment Security Mission (UKTI-DSO) arrived here for a programme organised jointly by Mumbai First and the British High Commission. Mumbai First is an organisation comprising private players who work with the government to find effective solutions to common problems in the city.

The delegates included Richard Paniguian, director general of UKTI-DSO, and Richard Freeman, the man who was in charge of security at the London Olympics, as government advisor to the Metropolitan police.

Col Sunil Saberwal, CEO, Mumbai First said, “This programme was started by Mumbai First chairman Narendra Nayar after 26/11, and since then we have organised a number of interactive meetings between the London and Mumbai police, focusing on areas like CCTV systems, disaster management and terrorism, so each can learn from the other’s experiences. We now intend to integrate the New York police department in this triangle of three mega cities, which have faced terrorism.”

Freeman spoke at length about the preparations made over the duration of nearly five years before the start of the London Olympics, and on how the security system was managed so as to leave no room for error. Eight members of the delegation are part of the Integrated Dog Squad based in the UK and Afghanistan. These delegates demonstrated how well-trained canines can be used to detect explosives, and even in counter- attacks.

Chief secretary Jayant Banthia said, “We all are in the learning process and such interactive sessions help bring knowledge and experience together. Given that the mega cities of London and Mumbai have many things in common, sharing such experiences will only help us handle the ground situation better.”

The delegation’s visit is part of an initiative by Mumbai First and state government, which started last year with visits of senior bureaucrats like Home Minister RR Patil, Guardian Minister Jayant Patil and then Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik to Scotland Yard. “Such tie-ups not only help in cementing the bilateral cooperation between two countries, but also provide a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas,” said Banthia, adding, “Understanding the way in which they handled the London Olympics was rewarding.

Customising that knowledge to suit our requirements therein lies the key challenge. The British could manage large crowds during the Olympics; we have to deal with large crowds on a daily basis. One man, who managed 16 agencies, headed the Olympic security system for five years in the run-up to the Games. We must plan in advance and trust the people in command to deliver. If they failed to perform, they should be replaced, before things go out of hand.”

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