The Metropolitan Police, along with emergency service partners, carried out a live-play exercise on Sunday 10 December at the Embassy of Israel to test its response to a hazardous substance incident.
It was the first live-play exercise involving police and other emergency services to take place at a foreign embassy in London and the scenario provided valuable learning both in terms of the nature of the incident, and the challenges brought about by the location.
Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Usher, Commander for the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command said: “This was the first time we have been able to carry out a live exercise inside a foreign Embassy and the experience and learning gained from this will be invaluable.
“It also tested our joint response in dealing with a hazardous substance, which is important as it will help officers and staff be better prepared should we ever face this type of challenge for real.
“I must stress, however, that the exercise, which has been planned over several months, was not designed with any specific threat in mind either in terms of the hazardous material element or the location.”
A spokesperson from the Embassy of Israel said: “The Embassy of Israel is happy to take part in this exercise and to work together with the Metropolitan Police and emergency service partners”
Although the UK’s threat level remains at severe, the exercise was not carried out in response to any specific intelligence or threat.
The scenario involved police, fire and ambulance staff responding together at the Embassy of Israel, in Kensington Palace Gardens. It tested how blue-light services deal with and treat casualties affected by a noxious substance, as well as how they ensure that the correct decontamination procedures are deployed for others inside the building – all whilst continuing to deliver the Met’s usual protective security responsibilities for the embassy.
Some 50 volunteers from the Reservist Royal Military Police also supported the exercise by playing the role of embassy staff during the exercise. Whilst the Embassy of Israel’s security team supported the exercise, no embassy staff played a role in the exercise.
The scenario and exercise was developed by the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, which, amongst its various duties, has responsibility for policing foreign embassies across London.
Commander Usher added: “We work closely with the various embassies across London to provide appropriate protective security around those venues. We regularly carry out a tabletop exercises at different embassies across the Capital, but this exercise will give our officers a unique opportunity. I would like to thank the Israeli Embassy staff for their support and assistance in helping to plan and deliver this exercise with us. The learning from this exercise will really benefit and help us in our response should a major incident ever occur at any embassy site in London.”