London – An unarmed policeman who died during an attack on Britain’s parliament last month might not have been able to protect himself even if he had been armed, London’s new police chief Cressida Dick said on Tuesday.
Dick vowed to provide even more ‘physical’ protection for public places in her first interview with the British press on Wednesday.
The attack on Westminster, in which a man drove into a crowd of pedestrians before stabbing policeman Keith Palmer, prompted scrutiny of security arrangements at the Houses of Parliament. Khalid Masood ploughed a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed Palmer to death, killing five in total before being shot dead by another officer.
However Dick, who gave a reading at Palmer’s funeral on her first day as Metropolitan Police Commissioner last week, said that he might still have died even if he had been armed.
“It’s very hard to say that if Keith had been armed, he would be alive today,” Dick said on BBC radio.
Dick, 57, the first woman in the role of Met commissioner, inherits the top job at a time when the service has been affected by huge budget cuts. “I think the Met needs to be well funded, and I will make the arguments for that,” she said. The service has made £600m of savings already and could be facing further cuts of £400m or more.
Some politicians have criticized security at the parliament and suggested that Palmer should have had a gun. Dick said she would wait for the results of reviews into the attack before drawing any conclusions.
She said there would likely have to be “some changes” to security provisions, but added that the attacker was looking to challenge freedoms that Britons value.
In a separate interview with LBC radio, Dick said that “we need to be alert” to any possible new attacks but emphasized that people should carry on going about their daily business as usual.
“I don’t think people need to be going around alarmed all the time.”
The man who carried out this horrific terrorist attack rebelled from within the UK, as it is assumed, therefore there is a central need to change the way the police operates, Dick said. “It was an attack on our values and democracy,” she added.
“The people in this country appreciate the freedom they enjoy, and they are able to walk, move and the police around them are unarmed. This is what I want to protect in the future, but I am sure we will see more physical protection in places crowded with the public. ”
“I will launch a strong campaign against terrorism, terrorists and white-arm crimes in London,” she said.