Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence



  TRANSEC regulates robust security regimes for the UK's surface mode transport industries. TRANSEC's approach to security is Threat and Risk based, and security requirements are communicated to industry via Directions under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 (AMSA) and an established system of Risk tables. When the assessed Risk is increased by TRANSEC, the security measures required are enhanced. This is an efficient and accepted system, which enables flexibility and rapid responses to changes in threat information and terrorist incidents. The Risk table system facilitated a rapid response, across the surface modes, to the events of 11 September. The Risk levels, and corresponding security requirements, were raised on the day of (shortly after) the attacks.

  TRANSEC employs a number of operational methods to ensure that compliance with security requirements is maintained. These include test programmes, unannounced inspections, presentations, roadshows, guidance and advice, and when necessary recourse to enforcement notices.

What proportion of UK ports were not previously (before 11 September) in receipt of TRANSEC advice?

  Around the coast of the UK there are approximately 660 locations that can be classified as ports. This description is a misnomer however, as many of these consist of just one jetty, pushing the definition of a port to its extreme. A recent survey established that there are around 100 commercially significant ports, of which TRANSEC, prior to 11 September, regulated or issued advice to around 45.

  Since 11 September TRANSEC has issued general maritime security advice to the remainder of the commercially significant ports, and a number of the smaller operations.


  Since the inception of AMSA, TRANSEC has regulated the passenger services (both cruise and ferry operations) of all ports serving International, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands routes. In addition the major domestic ferry routes, for example Portsmouth to Isle of Wight, are also regulated.

  In April 2001 TRANSEC broadened its remit, to include those ports responsible for handling ro-ro freight shipments. Thus even prior to 11 September, the number of ports within the maritime security regime or those in receipt of TRANSEC guidance had increased significantly.

What measures are you recommending be taken in respect of protective security?

  The UK already has a comprehensive maritime (passenger) regime. The measures include the designation of restricted zones, access control, pass systems, searching of vehicles and contingency plans.

  In the wake of 11 September officials from the DTLR's Ports Division initiated a review of UK port vulnerability. This work is still continuing in conjunction with a number of other government Departments and agencies. The vulnerability assessment is being conducted to provide a centralised overview, and to inform future policy in respect of port security. The Department is also working with the international community through the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to establish international guidelines to improve port security worldwide.


  There are in excess of 600 ports around the UK's coastline, of which 100 have been deemed as commercially significant. Historically, given the UK's "Open Ports" policy there has been no central government initiative to collate information on, for example, which ports routinely store potentially dangerous material. The vulnerability assessment is being conducted to rectify this, and to provide a centralised overview.

  The ultimate objective is to develop a proportionate strategy for managing the security of ports in the UK, in tandem with work being conducted through the IMO, to establish international guidelines to improve port security world wide.

How serious a concern is the security of maritime container traffic?

  There is the potential for maritime container traffic to be used by terrorists as a means of transporting weapons/introducing explosive devices into the UK. Given the volume of such traffic and the difficulties of screening/searching containers, there is a risk, which needs to be minimised.


  Container shipment is, given the volume and nature of traffic, intrinsically difficult to screen, and it is vital that the international maritime community continues to consider what security measures could be established to reduce the risk. The IMO is the best forum for this debate, and the issue of container security has been tabled since 11 September by the US. It was discussed at Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in February, and is also on the agenda for the May MSC. The UK is actively contributing to the international debate on container security.

  Although it is imperative that any such initiative it taken forward internationally, the UK had assessed the threat posed, in the context of ro-ro freight, prior to 11 September. In April 2001, the UK introduced a Code of Practice for ro-ro ports, this Code detailed what security measures should be considered depending on the prevailing level of threat. Post 11 September the measures were increased, in line with passenger ports, and became more intrusive.

  One of the latest developments, which potentially has an application in a number of freight screening areas is RASCO, a dog based, explosives detection system. This is soon to be utilised for certain types of air cargo and will be deployed this summer on cruise ship stores.

Are you satisfied that the security measures at ferry ports are adequate in the light of our new understanding of the potential terrorist threats?

  We are currently satisfied that the levels of security compliance being achieved by UK ferry ports is commensurate to the prevailing levels of threat. However, we are not complacent and measures and Risk Levels are continually reviewed.


  UK international ferry ports are regulated by TRANSEC, and generally we have been content with the levels of compliance achieved, during a period of sustained and unprecedented security requirements.

  The fact that requirements demanded of domestic ferry operations are not as onerous stems from the lack of historic threat, the relatively low-profile of the services and the need to balance security precautions with the commercial imperative. Domestic ferry services are akin to trains and bus routes, in that passengers turn up before the departure, board and travel without the need to produce any travel documentation.

What arrangements do you have for co-ordinating your activities with those of the Royal Navy (both port security measures and operations)?

  There has been increased dialogue since 11 September, and my officials have met with their MoD counterparts to discuss various aspects of port security where we have a common interest. In the main, our concentration is on protective and preventative security measures, whereas much of the MoD input relates to response and reaction.


  These discussions have been a useful cross fertilisation exercise, but ultimately jurisdiction over port security remains as pre-11 September, namely that the Royal Navy is responsible for the security of dockyard ports, whilst the Transport Security Division is responsible for security requirements as passenger ports.

What advice have you issued to railway companies since 11 September on additional protective security measures?

  We immediately raised risk levels for all Railway operations to HIGH (this has since been lowered). This required additional security measures to be put in place such as: increased searching of stations, control of access to vulnerable areas, removal of litter bins at key stations, and using public address systems to encourage passenger vigilance. Railways Security Circulars have also been issued advising on aspects such as increased driver cab security. As an outcome of 11 September TRANSEC has issued an advisory note to all Local Authorities, detailing how to reduce the external vulnerability of stations by taking into account security concerns in the placement of street furniture, especially litter bins. TRANSEC has also issued generic advice re CBRN issues to its Nominated Security Contacts in the Railway industry.


  TRANSEC issues guidance and advice to industry through the National Railways Security Programme (NRSP), briefings and the National Railways Security Committee. Compliance with the guidance is monitored by a programme unannounced inspections and tests. Until the first Railways Instruction is served (end of May 2002) TRANSEC does not have any regulatory powers to enforce security requirements, and all requirements are issued as advice. Despite this we have been generally pleased with the level of compliance, and we have forged an effective, constructive working relationship with the TOCs etc.

Are you satisfied with the arrangements for co-ordinating security measures between the various rail companies and other agencies (eg emergency services, local authorities)?

  TRANSEC's remit is restricted to protective and preventative security measures. Once an incident occurs it falls to the British Transport Police (BTP), local Police Authority, and other emergency services to re-establish control over the situation. TRANSEC does require contingency plans to be in place to deal with security incidents. Co-ordination of such plans will remain under the auspices of Railtrack Group standards, to ensure a consistency of approach across the network.

  We issued guidance to Local Authorities on the installation of street furniture in February 2002. Train Operating Companies have historically liaised with local authorities, but the relationships are mixed.


  TRANSEC came into being as a result of the Lockerbie bombing. Its remit was (and remains) to regulate the counter terrorist security measures of the highest profile passenger transport modes, initially Aviation and Maritime (latterly augmented by Channel Tunnel and Railways industries). This regulatory responsibility is restricted to preventative/protective security, and once an incident occurs, area control and response falls to the Home Office, Local Police Authorities and other emergency services.

What responsibilities do you (TRANSEC) have for security arrangements on LU? (Concern over CB attack)

  DTLR does not at present have a regulatory responsibility for LU. However, TRANSEC does chair a monthly meeting with representatives of LUL, BTP and the Security Service to discuss security issues. These meetings have been informative and have cemented an effective working relationship between TRANSEC and LUL. TRANSEC is about to commence an inspection programme to evaluate current measures.

  Following the Sarin attack in Tokyo, LUL actively considered what action is needed to take to deal with a similar attack. BTP have trained officers to respond to CB attacks and exercises have been held to test and develop contingency plans involving the emergency services.


  London Underground is one of the most publicly accessible transport modes and is extremely busy. The volume of users rules out passenger screening. Although it is a significant security concern, it remains difficult to identify and recommend any new measures.

  LU has faced the threat of terrorist action for a number of years and has taken appropriate and proportionate action to put in place security measures such as CCTV, regular patrols and control of access. It works closely with the BTP to identify and eliminate areas of potential attack and has contingency plans in place.

  Research and assessment of possible counter measures, including CBRN, continues. The main barrier to progress in this work is technical feasibility rather than funding.

What specific measures have you taken to improve security at the Channel Tunnel? How do you co-ordinate these with your French counterparts?

  Immediately following the events of 11 September TRANSEC increased the percentage of freight and passenger vehicles, passengers and rail freight to be searched before entering the tunnel (with 100 per cent of certain "customers" depending on operation) to the highest sustainable level. Access control arrangements were also increased including increased searching of staff, additional patrols, and certain vehicles and persons were escorted on site.

TRANSEC has also issued generic advice re CBRN issues to all Channel Tunnel operators

  Officials hold regular meetings with their French counterparts to discuss the efficacy of arrangements at the Tunnel. In accordance with the terms of the Canterbury Agreement, similar arrangements are in place on both sides of the Channel, but it is recognised that the terrorist threat may differ.

  The increase in the security at Eurotunnel and Frethun in France as a result of the illegal immigration problems is a separate issue, and while it does raise security concerns the requirements are not mirrored in the UK.


  TRANSEC and industry members are content that the security arrangements at the Channel Tunnel remain appropriate to the level of threat. Nevertheless, current procedures are presently being reviewed and new measures considered.

  UK and French officials meet on a quarterly basis to discuss security issues. This Joint Security Committee (JSC) enables the sharing of ideas and concerns and is a useful forum. On an annual basis the Belgians attend the meeting (Tripartite Committee).

How far are you confident that a robust security regime can be implemented on an EU wide basis?

  The UK security arrangements for rail freight include a system of security sealing at point of origin. The benefit of this system is that it is possible to establish an audit trail. This system became operational soon after Tunnel rail freight operations commenced. The UK has the advantage that it is placing these controls on loads originating from locations within the UK and has agreed a similar system with the Republic of Ireland should loads be sent. Checks on the integrity of the seals are undertaken on entry to the UK Rail Freight Euroterminals and at Dollands Moor, the UK equivalent of Frethun.

  The French Government has established a similar system with key terminals but it does not have control over arrangements outside its borders except by bi-lateral agreements. The French therefore rely on counter terrorist security checks at Frethun. While all containers are liable to search, only a percentage of rail freight wagons are checked, a similar requirement to that in the UK.


  Under the Treaty of Canterbury security regimes for the Channel Tunnel aim to be comparable on either side of the Tunnel. For freight, both sides are currently looking to screen percentage of units for counter-terrorist purposes. In the UK this is done by accepting units from Security Approved sites and by checking a percentage of loads from non-approved sites with explosive detection equipment. In France all the security checks for freight are carried out at Frethun. These include the use of dogs. However the number of illegal immigrants gaining access to this country on freight trains is a cause for concern from a terrorism point of view and is raised at our regular meetings with the French authorities.

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