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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 875-i
House of COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE the
Land Transport Security
MONDAY 21 January 2013
Chris Welsh, Jack Semple and Chris Dugdale
Peter Guy, Peter Lovegrove and Gareth Williams
Rt Hon Simon Burns MP, Andrew Cook and John Fuller
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 112
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Transport Committee
on Monday 21 January 2013
Mrs Louise Ellman (Chair)
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Chris Welsh, Director of Global and European Policy, Freight Transport Association, Jack Semple, Director of Policy, Road Haulage Association, and Chris Dugdale, Rail Freight Group, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Good afternoon and welcome to the Transport Select Committee. Would you give your name and the organisation you are representing?
Chris Welsh: I am Chris Welsh representing the Freight Transport Association.
Jack Semple: I am Jack Semple representing the Road Haulage Association.
Chris Dugdale: I am Chris Dugdale representing the Rail Freight Group.
Q2 Chair: We have heard that the UK takes a risk-based approach to land transport security. Could you explain to us what that means for your sector and whether you support that approach?
Chris Welsh: Yes; we very much support a risk-based approach to security. Our understanding and definition of that is that, rather than every piece of cargo delivered by truck, plane or ship that comes into the country being individually checked, a more intelligent-based approach should be used, based on profiling and known data that authorities have so that they are better able to target potential problem areas rather than ensuring that the whole of industry, which may be operating legitimately, is not inconvenienced by an over-bureaucratic approach to security measures. Overall, we think it is a better approach because it is more likely to achieve results than just a fishing expedition where you may hope to catch something.
Q3 Chair: Mr Semple, can you tell us what a risk-based approach means for you in your sector?
Jack Semple: I would agree with the comments we have just heard. A risk-based approach is appropriate. If we take the different categories for the operators involved in transport-I would like to focus on conventional crime particularly here-most of the industry takes a risk-based approach in practice. We have seen it and it is evidenced in the EU paper. For example, they identify the risk with high-value goods, and industry and operators of transport respond to that risk in terms of goods transport.
We have a concern in how we identify and react to those risks going forward in the era of cuts at the police level. It might be useful to revisit what the risks are and the policing response is. Many of our members have a fear that, first of all, we do not have adequate statistics on what the extent of freight crime is in the UK. We could do with better management of that and better management of response. There is also a fear that leaving the management of business crime to business may see crime against road haulage and distribution getting a low priority. That is a concern going forward.
The risk-based approach is right, but we need to keep an eye on what the risks are, what the extent of the problems are and ensure that there is an adequate response from the police because there is some concern that it may not be there going forward.
Q4 Chair: Is that to do with lack of resources or is it to do with policies?
Jack Semple: I think the one chases the other to a degree. We are really talking about the Department for Transport and the Home Office here. The police are under a lot of pressure on priorities and costs. We have a new police governance structure and the climate around business crime is changing. In the haulage industry, for example, we had the TruckPol organisation. It had its faults, but it was useful and was building. It has had its financial support from Government withdrawn. We are very keen to reinvigorate that process to re-engage with police forces around the country and also the new police crime commissioners to ensure that there is an understanding of the extent of crime against distribution and an appropriate response.
Q5 Chair: Mr Dugdale, what can you tell us about the risk-based approach in relation to rail freight? Is that the approach that you think is the most helpful?
Chris Dugdale: Very much so. It is a way of making more effective use of resources. Whether they are limited or unlimited, you concentrate them where they can be best used. We very much support that. The better use of resources applies whether they are the carrier’s own resources or public resources.
Q6 Chair: Are stowaways a big problem?
Chris Dugdale: For us?
Chair: Yes; stowaways.
Chris Dugdale: We had an unfortunate few years of that, but we have largely controlled that situation. I take it that you are referring there to the channel tunnel.
Q7 Chair: Stowaways can be there particularly, but it applies more generally as well.
Jack Semple: In road haulage, the problem is very much diminished from what it was in the past. There are now protocols for operators to go through that are well understood. Certainly, in relation to the Road Haulage Association, the issue in terms of our members is very much diminished from the past.
Q8 Chair: Mr Welsh, do you have a view on stowaways?
Chris Welsh: Yes; I concur with that. The arrangements that were put in place in the early 2000s, when it was a big problem-particularly the procedures at ports in France, the measures that the ferry operators have taken and, indeed, the measures that international road hauliers have taken-have ameliorated the problem quite considerably. There are significant fines still there as a penalty should people detract from those arrangements. I very much agree with Mr Semple that it is much less of a problem than it was.
Q9 Chair: Mr Dugdale, did you want to say any more about the problems-
Chris Dugdale: Of stowaways?
Chair: More generally on the problems that are being faced.
Chris Dugdale: No; my colleagues have covered it quite adequately and I agree with what they have said.
Q10 Iain Stewart: I want to pick up on one point about the channel tunnel. It has largely been a closed system, in the sense that passengers and goods are screened before going through the tunnel. There are very welcome moves to increase the amount of freight going through the tunnel, including services that start and finish at points far away from the tunnel. Do you have any concerns that those extra services might undermine the closed system that we currently have, or is it adequately screened?
Chris Dugdale: When you say additional freight, are you thinking of freight carried entirely by rail rather than the lorry shuttles?
Iain Stewart: Yes.
Chris Dugdale: The system that is in existence is a closed system that applies to the whole of the United Kingdom. In principle, if you develop the traffic, you are still using exactly the same system. There should not be any additional problems.
Q11 Iain Stewart: I recently visited the Daventry rail freight terminal, which is close to my constituency. Some of the traffic is for the channel tunnel and some of it is entirely domestic. I was not clear if there was a separate screening system for channel tunnel freight as opposed to domestic freight.
Chris Dugdale: It is largely done by trusting the consignor. If you have full confidence in the consignor and the consignor signs for the traffic that is moving, then you can have confidence that it is innocuous.
Q12 Iain Stewart: You are content that the current arrangements are satisfactory.
Chris Dugdale: Yes, exactly.
Q13 Chair: Is there a need to improve land transport security at an EU level? Is there a problem there, Mr Welsh?
Chris Welsh: The main problem we have identified is in southern and eastern Europe, where, arguably, better controls at the external borders of the Community could be better policed. In other words, they could intercept any terrorist or crime elements at that part rather than when it gets, more, to the internal part of the Community, if I can put it that way. The Commission’s report on security is greatly valued by the industry and, in particular, the high-level expert group that it has established as part of that to enable a better dialogue between industry and the Commission in terms of what additional measures could be applied to improve security. That is one thing.
The second thing is that, as always with Community measures, what is really important is that we have genuine harmonisation of the arrangements throughout the EU. We do not want a plethora of different measures differently enforced and applied in each member state because that becomes really difficult for industry to cope with.
Q14 Chair: Are you saying that that specific area is where you would like to see an EU involvement?
Chris Welsh: Yes. The Commission has a really important role to play in trying to get some degree of harmonisation of the existing security arrangements across EU member states. Indeed, one could extend it even further in the sense that that is the kind of mutual recognition of security regimes we would like to see between, for example, the United States and Europe, and Australia and New Zealand and Europe, where systems are compatible and attached to the risk-based approach that we were discussing earlier.
Q15 Chair: Which of the European border crossings have a problem? Which are the crossings where you would like to see action taken?
Chris Welsh: I cannot pinpoint the exact ones, but it does appear to be more the southern European areas into north Africa, Italy, Spain and those kinds of areas, and potentially the eastern borders.
Q16 Graham Stringer: Do you think security will get worse when Croatia joins the European Union? The accession documents indicated that the borders would not be secure.
Chris Welsh: It is difficult for me to comment but it is a good question.
Q17 Graham Stringer: I am pleased it is a good question, but why is it difficult for you to comment?
Chris Welsh: I am not completely familiar with the situation on the ground in Croatia. It tends to lead towards my more general comment about a concern with eastern and southern Europe.
Q18 Chair: Mr Semple, what is your view on the need for more European Union improvements?
Jack Semple: Where you have a multitude of border crossings, I suspect those who want to cross will choose the weakest area in terms of security. There will always be some that are weaker than others. That is in the way of things where you have such a very large border. The United States finds the same. Clearly, where there are identified problems, there should be an obligation on the member state to improve its performance. I suspect that, ultimately, it will be down to the member state in reality to resource the policing of its borders.
Q19 Chair: Mr Dugdale, do you have a view on that and where would you like to see more EU-level action?
Chris Dugdale: There are a number of points to be made. The first one is that, when we are talking about security, we need to differentiate between the reasons that we are taking security measures. Is it, for example, to prevent terrorism? Is it to reduce crime? Is it to stop illegal immigration and so on? The measures you adopt in each case are slightly different.
From the railway viewpoint, there is already a great deal of co-operation between railway organisations. They classically hand over traffic to each other, and so they have to co-operate and make arrangements between each other. We see less need for Commission initiatives. We think we have a number of those issues covered already.
Jack Semple: It is a very valid point. Security is used in the EU working paper to cover such an enormous range of issues from counter-terrorism to relatively minor crime that a more specific targeted approach may be necessary where they identify particular problems in specific areas. The one I would add to the list of my colleague is crime against the driver. From our point of view, that one is also a worry.
Q20 Chair: Is that something that you think should be dealt with at an EU level-a European level?
Jack Semple: No. I cannot see that that has a lot of merit. The exchange of good practice among enforcement authorities is very positive; if the EU can encourage that, then well and good. I have to say that in certain other areas that are, on the face of it, less challenged-for example, enforcement of road haulage regulations-the EU has some way to go, after a couple of decades, in getting harmonised enforcement. There are three bodies that consider enforcement issues in the EU just in road haulage. In terms of the practicality, the responsibility has to rest fundamentally with the member state.
Q21 Chair: Mr Welsh, you say in your evidence that you think the Department for Transport needs to persuade the European Commission for a harmonised system of intelligent transport to help prevent cargo theft. Is there a problem there and is the Commission dragging its feet on that? Is it something it has not thought about?
Chris Welsh: This is why we value the report it produced in May and also the establishment of this expert group that I talked about. Crime is quite a big problem. As the report identified, something like €8 billion of crime is due to theft and probably by organised crime. As my colleagues have pointed out, the better exchange of information, whether it is crime or security-related, among the various authorities in Europe, could play an important role in that regard. We have previously laid evidence before your Committee relating to problems with the lack of driver facilities and truck stops, not only in Britain but throughout the European Union. It is often very difficult for drivers and operators to have secure premises. All of those things contribute to the problem.
Where the Commission can work with member states is in the better sharing of information; Jack mentioned that just a minute ago, and other areas would certainly help. As has also been said previously, the funding from Government was removed for TruckPol, which was about £40,000, which had a dedicated police team to be able to do this work. We felt that was a retrograde step for a relatively small sum of money but offering quite a big value for what it did. So, yes, the Commission does have a role to play.
Q22 Chair: You think the answer is in the better sharing of information in this particular area.
Chris Welsh: I think that is quite a critical thing, yes.
Jack Semple: Perhaps the Commission should focus on that rather than the need to regulate for a number of standards-certainly, in the goods sector, it recognises that in high value they are already there-and mandate various training requirements and regulations in regard to equipment. It should focus on assisting in the dissemination of good practice and identifying the scale of the problem. For example, in the UK, we don’t really have any accurate figures as to the cost of security in terms of movement of goods in the UK. If we had a more accurate view on the cost of crime, that would be a good starting point.
Q23 Chair: Is there a case for introducing common security standards? For example, is end-to-end cargo supply chain security an area where you think there should be any further action?
Chris Welsh: The Commission has put quite a lot of measures in place already in that area. I share common ground with my colleagues that that is sufficient. We would not want to go down the route of any additional security measures because, otherwise, it becomes bureaucratically very difficult to be able to comply with the arrangements. The Commission has done some things in other areas. For example, it introduced the authorised economic operator scheme. We have a very low take-up in the United Kingdom for that scheme. If you talk to industry-both the shippers and also the transport operators-it is the very high costs of compliance with that, with limited results for them in terms of improved security, which has dissuaded people from going down that route. It is a classic example where, had the Commission talked to industry a bit more before going ahead with that scheme, it could have got better value from it. Maybe it has learned its lesson with the expert group that it is now talking about establishing.
Q24 Chair: Mr Dugdale, do you have any views on that?
Chris Dugdale: Yes. If we are talking about rail traffic to and from the United Kingdom, then the security regime for that rail traffic is aligned and similar to the security regime for airline movements. They have the same principles of a known consignor and known flows. They are not exactly the same but they are very similar. There is already a comparison or similar schemes in place.
Q25 Chair: Are there any other ways in which technology can help freight security issues?
Chris Welsh: Yes, undoubtedly. There are intelligent transport systems and the greater use of telematics, particularly in the cab, and that kind of thing. There is the track and trace capability. Those commercial things are increasingly coming in and becoming standard kit for the trucks. I guess it is the same in the rail area as well. That does offer an opportunity for surveillance here and for companies to know if a truck, if it is destined for a particular point, deviates. That is then made readily available to transport managers, who can ask questions as to whether something has gone awry.
Jack Semple: The significant point in terms of the EU paper is that these technologies exist. They are constantly being developed. They are being adopted increasingly by transport operators where they see the need. They are managing and assessing risk all the time, especially the larger operators, but all operators are assessing risk with the use of track and trace. There is a possible implication in the document that these systems are not being adopted by the industry, but they are. If you look at the appendix to the working group report, there is a great emphasis on technology and perhaps not as much emphasis as there might be on what are called human factors and training and security culture.
Chris Dugdale: The rail industry does use track and trace, but, to be honest, it is more for its own reasons and to make its own operations more efficient. Fortunately, we do not have a great problem with theft. We do not use track and trace quite so much to avoid theft.
Jack Semple: The FTA mentioned the issue of truck stops. In terms of road haulage, one of the benefits of track and trace is that you know exactly where your vehicle is. In contrast to rail, the driver can deviate from his route, either voluntary or otherwise, whereas that tends not to happen on the railway.
Where is there somewhere he can stop securely and confidently that he has adequate security? We have the situation where even on the motorway service area network-on our major trunk routes and major Euro routes-we do not have adequate security, particularly at night. In many of our large motorway service areas, we have no security for the lorries at all. This is one specific issue as an example where we need to take an appraisal of the risk and suggest that the motorway service area operators be required by the Department as part of their licence to provide adequate security, where, for example, technology is adopted in a depot.
In the commercial world, risks are being assessed. If you are developing a new warehouse that you want to sell as a third-party logistics provider, you will make it to a high standard of security if that is the nature of the goods that you want to store. The problem arises when you are away from your own store or your customer’s store. That is the area where we think Government may have a greater role to play in promoting the security of premises and, perhaps, also local authorities if there is a problem whereby, if you improve the security of your truck stop, your rateable value increases very substantially. So it is not just the one-off cost that you have; it is a continuing annual cost. That is something of a deterrent.
Perhaps we could look holistically at how we can improve the security away from the depots. Most transport operators would accept that the security on their patch is down to them, although, obviously, they would like the police to turn out where there is significant crime. When they are away from the depot, they try and work with other operators where they can, but there is a responsibility for the Government to assist in the promotion of adequate secure truck stops.
Q26 Chair: Do you see that as a national Government responsibility and not something with a wider network?
Jack Semple: Working with local government. This is a point we make to local authorities.
Q27 Chair: Not a European-wide issue.
Jack Semple: In Europe, they have identified the SETPOS/LABEL standards by which you might measure truck stops, but, in our view, that is a national competence. I cannot see what Europe would bring that national Government cannot bring.
Q28 Chair: Do you generally agree with that, Mr Welsh?
Chris Welsh: Yes, broadly. The problem with sufficient truck stops is a problem throughout Europe, though it is for national Governments to take up. We have made our views known to the European Commission to ensure that national Governments within the EU understand that this is a significant problem.
Q29 Graham Stringer: If a container is loaded on to a ship in south-east Asia, stops at x number of ports on the way, arrives in a port in the UK and is loaded on to the back of a lorry or a train, how do you know that what is labelled on the outside of that container is actually in the container and not something deeply unpleasant?
Chris Dugdale: You don’t, but you do know that, if the seals are intact, then what was loaded in it is what is still in it.
Q30 Graham Stringer: Can you explain that? The seals are not very sophisticated, are they?
Chris Dugdale: Very frequently, yes, they are.
Q31 Graham Stringer: So the real problem is that, if at the original port somebody said, "I am putting a shipment of toys in there", and it is actually something that might go bang, it is not checked when it comes into this country.
Chris Dugdale: That is a potential problem, but we also need to draw attention to the fact that there is this system of authenticating shippers and checking the contents on consignment. If you get something that is inherently suspicious-and, typically, that is something in which there is no profit in its movement or something that just does not seem right-then a customs authority will stop it and look at it.
Q32 Graham Stringer: I am thinking of some parts of the world where there are people who do not wish this country well and do not have very high standards of security at the ports. They can say, for example, that it is toys or textiles, there would not be a profit in it, and it could be something completely different. There is no check that what it says on the label is what it actually has in the containers. That is the point I am getting at.
Chris Dugdale: There can be no guarantees, but people are on the look-out for this sort of thing.
Q33 Graham Stringer: We are relying on the security at either the port of embarkation or that something at any of the ports in between does not happen to it, aren’t we? There is no security in the United Kingdom that checks on the initial security.
Chris Dugdale: If it is an import from outside the European Union, of course it will be declared to customs. Part of the customs process is to look at things that don’t seem right.
Q34 Graham Stringer: You said that the seals are very secure. Can you give the Committee a little more information about the kinds of seals and how they are secured?
Chris Dugdale: There are two principal types of seal. One of them is indicative. That does not protect the container; it merely indicates whether it has been opened or not. The other one is much more like a padlock and it is difficult to open. One of them is simply to indicate whether the contents are intact; the other one is to protect the contents principally against theft. There are international standards for seals. The ones at the top end of the standard are very secure.
Chris Welsh: I want to concur. The seals process works quite well, because, if it has been tampered with, it will be noticed by those handling the container, which will indicate that there has been some interference with the consignment. That could lead to an inspection and so on. The seal system is governed by international legislation and does appear to work well.
I want to come back to a point made by Mr Stringer. I can’t remember if it is 24 or 48 hours, but, under new EU arrangements, pre-manifest information now has to be given to the shipping company before the goods are shipped into the United Kingdom. This is deliberately so that Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue and other agencies that may want to do the profiling of particular consignments from particular origins and things like that can have a look at it. Although it is an initial burden on trade, we understand the reasoning for it. Provided the advance data can be provided, it lends itself to the risk-based approach that we described earlier in terms of trying to target particular areas where there may be a problem.
Q35 Iain Stewart: I want to follow up on Mr Stringer’s questions. Assuming that the seals are all intact, the profiling does not raise any questions and the documentation is in order, over and above that, are there still random checks made to make sure that the consignment of toys is not components for a nuclear weapon, drugs or something of that ilk?
Chris Welsh: My understanding is that customs do actually do that. There are random checks on consignments.
Q36 Iain Stewart: Do you believe they are sufficiently frequent?
Jack Semple: I understand there are random checks that are intelligence-led checks. In terms of really nasty things, I would not feel qualified to say whether they are adequate or not. I would make the point that, when we are talking about the movement of goods, you can get something pretty nasty into a car, with or without darkened windows. Whereas, in the past, somebody might have taken a 7.5 tonne lorry into London or Manchester and done something nasty with it, you can get a big impact from a relatively small vehicle. In terms of the threat, I am not sure it is all just from commercial vehicles.
Chris Dugdale: My colleagues in customs tell me that they do have intelligence-based and risk-based checks, but, in order to inform them and for them to be certain of the basis upon which the risk-based system is mounted, they must also do random ones so that they can get it right the next time.
Q37 Chair: It is proposed, too, that there are Advisory and Stakeholder Advisory Groups set up. Do you agree with that? If you do, which issues do you think those groups should be considering, if there are any specific ones?
Chris Welsh: Yes; we welcome the establishment of the expert group mentioned in the EU report. That has been welcomed by bodies such as the International Road Transport Union as well. We are able to input into the debate as it goes on and raise industry issues where we feel it would be helpful for guidance of the Commission going forward on security matters. So, yes, we have taken advantage of it in our European organisations.
Q38 Chair: Mr Semple, do you have the same view? Do you think these would be helpful?
Jack Semple: Broadly. An Advisory Group that helps to promote good practice and information is probably welcome. On the idea of splitting the Advisory Group from the Stakeholder Group, I think the two would be better merged. Clearly, given the huge range of threats and goods and passengers, they probably need to define their priorities quite closely to make progress. In terms of promoting engagement, then, yes, it is positive. Providing they focus on promoting engagement, we would be happy with that.
One point we would be keen to ensure is that there was SME representation there. You can sometimes have quite a rarefied atmosphere. The very largest shippers and carriers may be invited to express a view or may not. Given the very large number of operators there are in Europe in the goods sector, for example, then SME representation should be there as well and should be ensured. DG TREN’s record in the past is a little patchy.
Q39 Chair: Do you think the Department for Transport should be involved in the groups?
Jack Semple: I would hope the Department for Transport would want to follow what was going on there, yes.
Q40 Chair: Mr Dugdale, do you agree with these groups being set up? Do you think it would be helpful?
Chris Dugdale: Yes. I would add that it would be desirable to have mirror groups within the United Kingdom.
Q41 Chair: You like the idea and you want mirror groups in the UK as well.
Chris Dugdale: Yes.
Q42 Chair: Finally, a number of you have mentioned the TruckPol service. You have expressed concerns that it has stopped. Would you like that reinstated?
Chris Welsh: Yes.
Jack Semple: Yes. For many years, the RHA has made a financial contribution to TruckPol. We were very disappointed when the funding was withdrawn last April. TruckPol had its faults. It had progress to make but was moving in the right direction. We have just completed a three-month trial of a similar reporting system. We are at something of a critical stage in terms of TruckPol. We are very keen-and, certainly, elements of the industry would be keen-for it to be maintained. It is very important for police forces around the country to have this area of crime on their profile.
We have reporting through the National Business Crime Bureau. It is prepared to receive reports from the police. However, the police have a number of funding and priority concerns, as we have said. We need any support that the Committee can give to the idea of maintaining a system for the central collection of data on crimes that we can identify, the scale of the problem and on patterns of good practice, so that the police can talk to each other and respond. We also need to take it to the private sector to inform and encourage them in good practice. We are at something of a crossroads at the moment.
I would also like to highlight the broader context of the Government stepping back somewhat from managing business crime, as it is perceived by our members. There is concern in the freight and haulage sector as to where that will lead us. If there is a diminution in focus to crime among the police and in the police response-and perhaps also the judicial response-that will be noted by criminals attacking the industry. We are keen to avoid that.
Q43 Karl McCartney: I have a question about security on either road or rail. Which do you think is safer for freight? Do you think we should be taking more of the freight that comes through the channel tunnel further on the railway system rather than immediately decamping it on to the M20 and M26?
Chris Dugdale: We would like to see that, of course, but for commercial reasons. Historically, we have had a much easier profile in so far as security from crime is concerned, but I would echo what my colleagues have said about counter-terrorism security. A lot of people just look for opportunities and, if they cannot do it one way, they will do it another.
Jack Semple: In terms of all the discussions between modes, I am not sure that security is the one that comes out most frequently, but I would say that most goods that go by rail also go by road. There is a bit more handling involved, so you are probably more secure going by road in that you do not have the double or triple handling that you have with rail. You go very often by road to the railhead and put it on, but I do not think it is a big issue in terms of road or rail.
Q44 Chair: Mr Welsh, do you want to comment on that?
Chris Welsh: There are procedures in place for all modes and I think they are adequate.
Chair: That sounds a very diplomatic answer. Thank you very much, gentlemen, for coming and answering our questions.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Peter Guy, Operational Security & Continuity Planning, Network Rail, Peter Lovegrove, Operational Resilience Manager, Association of Train Operating Companies, and Gareth Williams, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Eurostar International Ltd, gave evidence.
Q45 Chair: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Welcome to the Transport Select Committee. Would you give your name and organisation, please?
Peter Guy: I am Peter Guy from Network Rail.
Peter Lovegrove: I am Peter Lovegrove from the Association of Train Operating Companies and therefore, am here representing the UK’s domestic passenger operating companies.
Gareth Williams: I am Gareth Williams from Eurostar.
Q46 Chair: We have heard that the UK takes a risk-based approach to transport security. Could you tell us what this means for your sector and whether you think that is the right approach?
Peter Guy: For us, the risk-based approach means identifying the potential risks or threats that exist to the railway infrastructure and its operation and performance. We would assess the likelihood of those risks or threats occurring and then assess the impact of the risk or the threat. We would then develop, in concert with people like DFT security, the British Transport Police and other rail users-for example, the Association of Train Operating Companies and freight operators-mitigations for those risks and threats, but at the same time highlight the fact that any mitigation or response to the risk must be proportional. As part of the whole risk review, we would also review the processes, steps and mitigations that we put into place.
Q47 Chair: Are there any problems with a risk-based approach as far as you are concerned?
Peter Guy: No, not at this time.
Q48 Chair: Mr Lovegrove, what is your view on that?
Peter Lovegrove: Yes, I would agree with that. A lot of our arrangements are based on a threat model that looks at the groups and individuals who are posing a threat and what their particular targets will be. That may be the infrastructure; it may be stations. Obviously, even within stations there will be targets that are more attractive to a terrorist than others. There is also the modus operandi. That all goes into that. Obviously, there are limited resources so it makes sense to concentrate the resources that are available on where we perceive the greatest risk to be. For us, yes, it is very much the right approach.
Gareth Williams: I would echo what my colleagues have been saying. We apply the same principles of the risk-based model. The only thing I would add is that, of course, it depends on working very closely with Government authorities so that you can get their view as to the level and nature of the risk.
Q49 Steve Baker: On this point, thank God, I don’t think we have ever had a bomb on a train in the UK, but I do remember one going off in Spain. Were they subject to a risk-based approach and were any lessons drawn over to the UK from what happened there?
Peter Guy: I am not aware if the Spanish operator infrastructure or train operators used a similar risk-based approach to us. However, from the lessons perspective, yes, there were lessons that came out of what happened in Madrid. For example, it highlighted that the threat is still very much there. While we did not have a recent attack on the overground rail system, the events of 7/7 in 2005 highlighted, again, within the UK that the same threat does exist.
The other lesson is that we are facing a new dynamic of terrorist threat-7/7 highlighted this especially-in the fact that we had what we termed home-grown terrorists who were prepared to commit suicide in the process of conducting a terrorist attack. That brought a completely different change from the tactics that we had seen in the UK previously and, I suggest, the tactics previously used by Irish Republican terrorist groups, both in Northern Ireland and on the mainland UK.
Peter Lovegrove: We will always work with the security services here to learn any lessons from any information we get from elsewhere. We have had attacks on trains in the UK but admittedly not in recent times. We will certainly review everything, which is one of the reasons why we are supporting the sharing of good practice across Europe but not legislation. We believe that all that can be gained can be gained from simple sharing of good practice.
Q50 Chair: Mr Williams, did Eurostar learn any lessons from Madrid?
Gareth Williams: I would echo the first comment that Peter made. We had been set up initially with a regime that looked very similar to that for aviation. The nature of the threat was deemed to be slightly different because of the critical infrastructure. Madrid and a number of the other attacks merely brought home the point that this is a threat that extends to rail as well. It was very much a warning on the threat, but lessons were learned on how to apply measures against it.
Q51 Steve Baker: I am thinking about my commute this morning. There was no security checking, and I am pretty sure that I don’t want to live in a world in which there is. We are having this conversation about a risk-based approach, but, at the moment, as a passenger I do not think there is any visible security on the overground train network. I cannot remember the last time I even saw a policeman overground. What practical measures are taken as a result of this risk-based approach?
Peter Guy: We operate what is called the National Railways Security Programme. I am sure my colleagues in the DFT would be able to comment on this in a lot more detail when they follow our session. We are obligated to carry out specific security procedures and tasks. I cannot comment upon those conducted on trains because Network Rail does not operate passenger or freight traffic as such. However, we own and manage some of the biggest railway stations in mainland UK, and we carry out specified security tasks that are set within the National Railways Security Programme for that.
As for the presence of policing on trains, again, I cannot comment upon that because I do not have visibility of the operation and deployment of police on to trains. However, I am aware that the British Transport Police have set up neighbourhood policing teams. This was set up two to three years ago. They are dedicated to policing main transport hubs that exist.
Q52 Steve Baker: I just make the point, though, that they only police main transport hubs. When I said I had never seen a policeman, I meant at High Wycombe. We see them in London, of course, all the time, but is there anywhere apart from the main transport hubs where we should expect to see a police presence?
Peter Guy: Again, I would not like to comment upon British Transport Police operation and deployment or where they decide to deploy their officers. That is very much for them to decide that. However, I would assume that, if there is an area that suggests there is a requirement for the British Transport Police to either introduce or increase a presence, then they would follow that accordingly.
Q53 Karl McCartney: There is CCTV on various stations, which might well be owned or run by Network Rail, by some of the train operators or even by Eurostar. Do you share that with British Transport Police or other agencies, or do you have your own responsibility for your own teams who look at that? Is it all fed into somewhere where somebody is, hopefully, having an overview of some characters that are acting suspiciously?
Peter Guy: Yes, we do. We have invested a significant amount of money into developing the CCTV hub at Ebury Bridge at Victoria for the British Transport Police. All the major stations in London are fed into there, whereby they can be monitored, used for intelligence-gathering and for monitoring of potential crime taking place.
Q54 Karl McCartney: That is all well and good, but the 7/7 bombers did not start in London. What happens in the rest of the country, if you don’t mind my asking?
Peter Guy: Ebury Bridge deals with the main stations in London. However, we are expanding that to include out-of-London stations, and that work is ongoing as we speak.
Q55 Graham Stringer: I want to follow up on Mr Baker’s question. It seems to me that, rather than being a risk-based policy, it is a stable-door-based policy. The last time I was in Madrid, I went through airport-style security to get on the trains after 200 people were killed there in the Atocha bombings. Here, where there must be at least the same threat from terrorists, there is no security whatsoever. Can we really believe that that is risk-based and not stable-door policy?
Peter Lovegrove: We cannot eliminate the terrorist threat; we can only do our best to minimise it. That means you have three areas of balance that you have to bring in, so it is risk-based. One of those is obviously about cost versus benefits. That is pretty basic. There is also what I call the practicality balance. Anything that we do must be something that we can work to as the industry and must also be acceptable to the public. Of course, for the most part, we run a mass transit system in the UK. The sort of airline security that they have on certain routes in Spain would not work in a commuter area around London.
Finally, there is the balance between technology-how much you can apply CCTV and other clever means of identifying people acting unusually-and the human element. Our staff get a gut feel for what does and does not look right. Although it is not quite a balance, the other thing that is worth mentioning is sustainability. As human beings, we have to be able to sustain whatever measures we are taking.
All of those factors need to be balanced. In the case of Mr Baker’s High Wycombe, that will not be regarded as high a risk station as, for example, King’s Cross or Euston. There will be measures in place such as locking waste containers so that bombs cannot be hidden in there and so on and so forth, but we would not expect them to be visible necessarily to the public at large.
Q56 Graham Stringer: That is a fuller answer and it is one I suspected, but, basically, it is not risk; it is cost-benefit and fingers crossed hoping that something does not happen. I cannot believe that the policy would stay the same if somebody did blow one of our trains up. Can you?
Peter Lovegrove: As I said earlier, we will learn any lessons from any incidents that happen here or elsewhere. I cannot really add more beyond that to what I have already said.
Q57 Chair: That does sound a bit complacent.
Peter Lovegrove: No; I do not think it is complacent. As Mr Guy said, there is a National Railways Security Programme that is worked out between the DFT security people and the rail industry looking at the risks and how they can best be identified. That is fully monitored. There are compliance inspections on that and so on and so forth. Ultimately, the rail industry takes its guidance from the security services on where the risks are greatest and what form they take.
Q58 Graham Stringer: We have been making the comparison with Madrid. Do you think we need more, less or the same amount of European legislation when it comes to train security?
Peter Lovegrove: Personally, I do not think that legislation would help us in the areas of weakness that we have. For example, one area I have mentioned already is the need to sustain a high level of alertness. As human beings, it is very difficult to do that. I do not see how legislation would help on something like that.
Q59 Graham Stringer: Does anybody else want to add to that?
Peter Guy: I would agree with what the previous freight operators were commenting on. It is a case of sharing best practices to the best of our abilities rather than mandating or legislating.
Q60 Chair: Mr Williams, do you agree with the other replies about whether there is a need for any more European-level legislation or involvement?
Gareth Williams: Yes. We do not see the need for European-wise legislation. We welcome the exchange of best practice as in the document and, of course, press for commonality of standards in all our operating bases, but we do not see it as a matter of European-wide legislation.
Q61 Chair: What about issues to do with customs control and with trains going through different countries?
Gareth Williams: Again, the more there is commonality of standards, the easier it is for our passengers to understand what is expected of them and what they can and cannot do, wherever they join the train. That is something that is generally co-ordinated between the Governments, in our case, as part of the Joint Security Committee of the Intergovernmental Commission. Although there are different people who are undertaking the work, there is a common approach.
Q62 Iain Stewart: Mr Williams made the point in one of his answers that the reason Eurostar has airline security checks is because of the iconic nature of the infrastructure. Assuming that the terrorist threat remains similar to today, when High Speed 2 opens, do you think there should be similar airline-style checks on domestic services? Is it something that has been discussed in the industry?
Peter Lovegrove: I am not aware that it has been discussed in the industry. One issue that you would need to look at from a practicality point of view is that there are some cases where high-speed systems are essentially a closed system. We make the channel tunnel a closed system, but the majority of the high-speed network, if you look across Europe, has trains that are running on to it and off it from the traditional infrastructure. I think it would be quite difficult to establish that boundary.
Q63 Iain Stewart: In your written evidence, you made the point about the open nature of high-speed rail in European countries. You go on to reject the need for European-wide standards and legislation on this. If the UK system is similar to that on the continent, why shouldn’t there be a European-wide standard?
Peter Lovegrove: We answered the question from the perspective of the UK. We do not believe that European legislation would improve matters in the UK. I am not in a position to answer whether it would improve matters in other European countries because I have no oversight of their security arrangements.
Q64 Chair: Mr Williams, do you have a view on that in addition to the answer you gave me to the earlier question?
Gareth Williams: One of the difficulties of trying to set European-wide standards is that there are very different natures of services. Indeed, just from talking to the three of us, you can see that the national network differs from the high-speed network, which differs from the channel tunnel and so on and so forth. There is a risk that you will spend quite a lot of time trying to draw up common standards for all eventualities, whereas the risks are different according to the nature of the service or the country in which you are operating.
We are very supportive of the work done in order to co-ordinate standards where the nature of the service and the risk is common. For instance, when Deutsche Bahn were talking about running new services through the tunnel, they were or are talking about running trains from Cologne and Amsterdam, and they would know that the UK and French Governments had been in contact with Germany and Holland in order to try and widen the approach taken to channel tunnel security and apply a similar approach and standards to the whole system. It feels to me more practical and focused to be done on that kind of case-by-case basis than to wait for a commonality of standard across the continent.
Q65 Chair: Is that the approach that you accept in relation to the possibility of a terrorist incident in the channel tunnel? Do you think the approach you have indicated between countries is the way to address that rather than any European involvement?
Gareth Williams: Yes, to ensure that any train entering the system undertakes similar security standards before it passes through the tunnel.
Q66 Graham Stringer: Going back to the previous question, and all these questions are related, you are right to say that alertness of staff is vital in security. Training of staff in alertness is also vital in security, and yet in your evidence you said you do not want that to be made statutory or mandatory. Why not?
Peter Lovegrove: The proposal is that that should apply to all staff, which would by implication include office-based staff. It is very appropriate for staff at the stations to be trained, as indeed they are, and regularly tested on that training as well through inspections.
Q67 Graham Stringer: So that I am clear, you would be supportive of mandatory or statutory training for staff that are close to the security risk, or do you just want it to be self-regulation?
Peter Lovegrove: In the UK, it is driven by the National Railways Security Programme that I mentioned earlier. It has a legislative element and a good practice element to it. That seems to work reasonably well as far as we can tell in the UK.
Q68 Chair: Are you saying you are satisfied with that? Is that what you are saying?
Peter Lovegrove: Yes; I would say we are satisfied with that, without being complacent.
Q69 Chair: What makes you satisfied?
Peter Lovegrove: It seems to represent a balance that is risk-based.
Gareth Williams: Our situation is slightly different in that our plans for responding to the threat are regulated by the Department. Part of those plans is about the training of staff, so all the relevant staff are trained to a standard, and that is in the UK where we take responsibility. In Belgium it is done by the national authority, Securail, and in France it is the Douanes or PAF.
Q70 Steve Baker: I would like to ask you for some numbers. You may not have them to hand, so I will forgive you of course. Could you compare the number of genuine incidents you get on the network to the number of reports you get of suspicious objects or whatever, to the number of passenger journeys?
Peter Guy: I would not be able to offer you the comparison in figures. Suffice to say that we do get a lot of hoax calls made either to the police or other organisations that do not lead to something significant or threatening. For example, it could be to the Samaritans.
Q71 Steve Baker: We are all aware that staff and passenger vigilance is a good idea. I will put it to you qualitatively. I would imagine that the number of reports of suspicious devices or incidents is vastly less than the number of passenger journeys. I am sure it is enormously less. For the record, you are nodding. How many genuine security incidents do you get on the network each year-roughly, if you do not know exactly?
Peter Guy: I am sorry; I do not have that figure with me.
Q72 Steve Baker: Is it single digits, 20 or 100?
Peter Guy: Again, I would not like to guess, but I am happy to provide that in further written evidence.
Q73 Chair: We would like to know not just how many but what they are and what the trends might be.
Peter Guy: If you are happy, Chair, I will provide that afterwards in written evidence.
Gareth Williams: It is not necessarily the way we measure effectiveness. We do still get incidents. There are still tourists who try to bring back ammunition from world war one battlefields in France, which occasionally causes incidents at Gard du Nord. The way in which we audit is very similar to the airlines. You conduct mystery shopper tests on your security and see how many of those get through. That is what you measure rather than relying on a trend of incidents as your principal measure. You audit and that is systematic.
Q74 Steve Baker: I hesitate to ask you this given the earlier conversations we have had, but, when you do that audit, what sort of numbers do you find?
Gareth Williams: I really would not want to talk about audit numbers in that sort of way in an open forum. I could write to the Committee.
Q75 Steve Baker: If you write, it is a matter of public record as well. Is it classified?
Gareth Williams: Yes.
Q76 Chair: Are you sure it is? It is not just that you don’t want to say.
Gareth Williams: No; I know it is restricted information.
Q77 Chair: ASLEF, the trades union, has drawn our attention to the problems of overcarry, when not all passengers have disembarked following the termination of a rail journey. Do you see that as a serious problem and what can be done about it? Mr Lovegrove, do you have a view?
Peter Lovegrove: From a terrorist perspective, no, I do not see it as a problem.
Q78 Chair: But from a general security perspective is it a problem?
Peter Lovegrove: It is perhaps more of a safety problem than a security problem, in that there is a risk that those passengers will disembark on to the running line, but that is quite a different matter.
Q79 Chair: Do you think it is a problem? You are giving an impression that you do not think it is a problem.
Peter Lovegrove: I said I do not think it is a problem from a security perspective. It is potentially a problem from the safety perspective of those individuals.
Q80 Chair: Therefore, what should be done about it?
Peter Lovegrove: I guess steps should be taken to ensure that the likelihood of people being carried into depots is reduced. The specific example that ASLEF refers to is on the underground rather than the mainline railway, so I am afraid I am not in a position to talk about the detail of that.
Q81 Chair: Mr Williams, how could we get greater co-ordination of security measures for cross-border services without imposing additional costs? Is that possible, or is it inevitable that it will cost more?
Gareth Williams: No; I do not think it is inevitable that it will cost more. We and all operators accept that the provision of security is part of the cost of running this sort of operation. If you are looking to extend a new route, then you will accept that there is an additional cost, just as there is in all parts of the operation of running that route. I mentioned before that there has been a system that has worked well-a Joint Security Committee-between the French and British Governments as part of the channel tunnel regulator. They meet regularly, and I know that the British Government have looked to extend those discussions with the Germans and Dutch, as I said before. It seems to me, therefore, that there is a forum, a practice and established ways of working, which could very easily be extended to bring in other parties, depending on where operators look to run services.
Q82 Chair: It is proposed that Advisory and Stakeholder Advisory Groups be set up. Do you think that is a good idea? What things would you like such a group to look at?
Peter Guy: I think it is a very good idea. We would like to see clear lines of communication between the two groups. Obviously, you would assume that the Stakeholder Group is going to be people like the infrastructure operators and the train operating companies. The advisory body may be the more official body or Government Departments that would be representing transport in the European countries. If we do have clear lines of communication, then that opens up the process we have already commented upon where there is good sharing of information and good practice across the board through all interested parties, both Government-led and from the operators themselves.
Q83 Chair: Are there any other views about the proposed groups?
Peter Lovegrove: I would absolutely echo that.
Gareth Williams: We see it as a forum for sharing experience and best practice, and then taking that and applying it within the more detailed discussions that I was talking about earlier.
Q84 Chair: Finally, could you summarise for us what you see as the major challenges for both operators and passengers in relation to security? What are those challenges at the moment?
Peter Guy: From Network Rail’s perspective, it is one of maintaining staff vigilance and ensuring that they conduct any security tasks or duties comprehensively and consistently. I am not saying it is a major problem, but it is something that we always have to keep an eye on to ensure that we provide as safe an environment as possible, not just for people who use the rail network but also for our staff to work in.
Q85 Chair: Are there any specific changes that would help you to achieve that?
Peter Guy: I do not think there are any specific changes, be it anything legislative, that would help us do that. That is very much a managerial process for us to look at ourselves.
Q86 Chair: Mr Lovegrove, what is your view?
Peter Lovegrove: I think the challenge is to maintain the balance that I was referring to earlier, and also being alert and able to respond to new threats that emerge. The one I would cite there is the cyber threat. That is something to which we have not given any great consideration yet within the rail industry.
Gareth Williams: I would certainly echo the point about maintaining staff vigilance, particularly when you are running a process of security checks day in and day out, ensuring that those are all done to a standard. That is a constant need and a constant driver. The other issue we face as we expand services is the practicality of ensuring that, wherever you start your service, it is subject to the same standard and level of security controls as currently happens in London, Paris, Brussels or wherever.
Q87 Chair: Do you think that can be achieved by national Governments?
Gareth Williams: Yes. I very much welcome the amount of attention that is being given to this issue by both the Home Office and the Department for Transport, who have really seized on the idea of rail liberalisation and the potential for expanding international rail, and are starting to plan ahead for that eventuality and set up the structures to deal with it. We welcome that.
Q88 Steve Baker: Mr Lovegrove, are there plans to look at the cyber threat?
Peter Lovegrove: Yes, there are.
Peter Guy: I might be able to add to that. Especially with the introduction of systems like the European Rail Traffic Management System, where you are talking about a pan-European system for, as it says, traffic management, Network Rail, certainly-who will be the owner and operator of such systems for the line side and infrastructure aspects; there are going to be parts of the system on the trains themselves-are looking very closely at that. The cyber threat to that is very much on our radar.
Q89 Chair: Are you satisfied that you have the correct resources, powers and co-operation from others to enable you to address that?
Peter Guy: Yes, we have. At this very moment, we are speaking with organisations like the Centre for Protection of the National Infrastructure and with the Department for Transport as well.
Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Rt Hon Simon Burns MP, Minister of State, Andrew Cook, Head of International Rail, and John Fuller, Head of Land Transport Security, Department for Transport, gave evidence.
Q90 Chair: Good afternoon, Minister. Welcome to the Transport Select Committee. Would you and your team give your names for our records?
John Fuller: I am John Fuller. I am Head of Land Transport Security in the Department for Transport.
Andrew Cook: I am Andrew Cook from the Department for Transport. I head up International Rail Security Policy.
Q91 Chair: Minister, I gather you would like to make an opening statement.
Mr Burns: I wondered if you thought it might be helpful if I gave a brief overview of our general approach to this important issue before the questions flowed.
Chair: Yes, please.
Mr Burns: First of all, it goes without saying that I welcome being here and seeking to assist your Committee in its inquiry and commission. What I would like to say is that, there will possibly and potentially be some issues touching on security that cannot be explored in too great a detail in this forum given the nature of the subject. I hope we can also concentrate on land security in the generality and specifics on its own merits. Trying to draw too many parallels with other transport modes, as the European Commission’s working document does, is to my mind a dangerous course when circumstances vary so greatly within the EU. Aviation, for example, has always been an international sector. Land transport is fundamentally domestic, with some international links, for which special arrangements between the relevant countries apply.
Setting this issue in historical context, the UK has a very strong record on security. We have had to contend with serious threats from different terrorist groups over the last four decades and we have learned a considerable amount during this time about how to deliver proportionate, sustainable and practical security. That is particularly true of transport, where the ease and convenience of travel needs to be preserved as far as practicable at the same time as the traveller is protected and the operator not overburdened.
The balance needs to vary according to transport mode, location and threat. It is for those reasons that the Government have taken the position that they do not support the case for European standards or regulations on land transport security. It is a very important principle that member states are best placed to understand the particular threat they face and judge what measures are needed.
The UK has had a high threat over a long period, so it is no surprise that our security regime is one of the best. We would not ask other countries facing lesser threats to level up to that, but we certainly should not level down our own measures just to conform to theirs.
That is not to say that we think we have nothing to learn from other countries’ experiences. The threat keeps developing and we cannot afford to be complacent. We are, therefore, very much in favour of countries sharing experience and best practice. We have done this for many years, with countries facing similar security challenges both inside and outside the EU. The Commission may have a role in helping this to happen even more, as my written evidence has highlighted, but we can see no case for a general EU-wide legislative approach to land transport security, which would be taking a very blunt instrument to a very delicate and complex problem.
In conclusion, the Commission’s working document is very wide-ranging and the specific proposals lack detail. Some even fail to take account of existing European legislation-for example, the requirements already in place for the secure transport of dangerous goods. But, even if proposals are at an early stage of development, there is enough clarity to justify taking a position of general caution.
From the views expressed to us and in written evidence to this Committee, we believe this caution is supported by transport operators. They know what the costs, financial and practical, of ill-thought-out legislation would be. They understand that those costs would fall ultimately on the public, whether in high ticket prices or the cost of carriage, making goods in the shops more expensive.
In summary, we intend to make sure that the well-developed UK approach to transport security and the good experience of UK transport users at home and abroad is not undermined by inappropriate pan-European requirements. We will engage constructively with partners in the EU to see where co-operation can be bolstered, but we see definite limits to the EU role in the area of land transport security.
Q92 Chair: What do you see as the current or new challenges for transport security?
Mr Burns: As I said in my preliminary remarks, it varies from country to country because the threat and the potential vary. What is crucial is that we have to have robust and sustainable procedures and mechanisms in place so as to minimise the potential threat and danger to the transport system, passengers, freight and other things. That is why we have developed our modus operandi, our plans and the procedures we have in place to such a high level following the experience we have had now for over four decades, and also working in co-operation with other countries and organisations, sharing best practice. You can never for one minute be complacent. As techniques and other methods develop, we have to be on top of our game to be able to counter those threats and that danger to both the public and our transport system.
Q93 Chair: You say you are against any further EU legislation in this area, but European legislation has a good record in regulating aviation and maritime transport. Why are you so opposed? Is it opposition on principle or because you are looking at the detail?
Mr Burns: I certainly would not say it is on principle because it is an EU proposal. No; I would not say that. It is because the aviation transport system is very different from the domestic transport system. First of all, with aviation, there are very tight controls, because of the nature of the transportation system, with border controls and security before you board a plane and with the checking of the luggage. If you take the rail system in this country, it is primarily but not exclusively a domestic service. There are between 2,600 and 2,700 stations. You have to have a different approach because it would not work in the same way that the aviation security system warrants such very tight controls. There are other ways in which you can seek to protect the transportation in a domestic setting compared with an international one.
Q94 Chair: You have spoken about the need to share information and best practice. Is that being done effectively? Are you concerned that, perhaps, lower standards in some member countries could put the UK at risk? Isn’t that a vulnerability that should be taken very seriously?
Mr Burns: It should certainly be taken very seriously, but that is why I believe we have been so proactive in developing our highly sophisticated and in-depth approach to security. We liaise at an international level through international organisations, but we also liaise with other countries that have similar levels of threat to our own. We are always looking out within the international community, as well as internally, for any new developments, any new ideas and any new methods to assess whether they are relevant or appropriate for our own approach.
With a piece of legislation and given the level of sophistication of our own systems, one would not want legislation flowing from Europe that created a common denominator that might bring up the requirements on some countries where the threats are far less than those facing this country, which might then have the knock-on effect of reducing the levels of sophistication that we have with our own system. That is what worries me about having a common denominating piece of legislation or proposals.
Q95 Chair: But that would not be an inevitability, would it? It would surely be possible, if there was a circumstance like that, where it was agreed that other countries had to improve their standards, that we could maintain what we were doing. Would that be something that was impossible to negotiate if you found an incidence where that was required?
Mr Burns: In some ways one has to look at individual situations. Certainly, the approach of an EU-wide initiative could promote further the sharing of experience between EU states. We also recognise that some standards are already produced on an international basis, such as those for rolling stock. We would look to the EU to support changes to the European rail standards to incorporate security features.
I don’t think that there is a need for EU legislation on the nature of this draft document because I do not think it could be written in a way that was appropriate to all member states. It could be too high a threshold for some and too low for others. Obviously, the threat levels differ between different states. I don’t see the need to change the system as it works now, when it is completely appropriate for countries like the United Kingdom, which has had to face a threat for four decades or so.
Q96 Iain Stewart: Following on from that answer, I accept your point about EU-wide legislation being a very blunt instrument and the UK potentially having to diminish its current standards. In very specific areas where there is going to be a European-wide system like the European Rail Traffic Management System, is there scope there for having a pan-European arrangement to protect against cyber attack or some other threat?
Andrew Cook: There is certainly merit in looking at that. That is probably one of the very limited areas where there is scope to do that. Certainly, at the moment, what we are looking at is the cyber threat more generally against the rail industry. As part of the European standards coming forward, as you say, certainly from the safety perspective they have been looked at, but there is a need to look at that from the security perspective. At this stage, all we can really say is that it is worth investigating. I don’t think it is a given that it would necessarily mean that at the end of the day.
Q97 Iain Stewart: Potentially, it would not have to be legislation that governs it; it could just be a system of bilateral standard agreements.
Andrew Cook: Yes. The big difficulty about legislation is that everybody has to agree to it. Where we can see the advantage in best practice and sharing that information is that it allows member states to look at things and gets away from some of the quite detailed arguments about where the impact will be.
Q98 Steve Baker: Thinking about the risk-based approach, are there any disadvantages to taking a risk-based approach? Mr Fuller, do you want to answer that?
John Fuller: The risk-based approach is one that allows us to prioritise resources where the threat is highest. Obviously, we are looking at a network that is very big. As the Minister has said, there are more than 2,500 stations and more than a billion passenger journeys. You have to deploy your resources in a way where they can be targeted on the biggest threat. The disadvantage is if you don’t correctly identify the threat and there is a problem with your risk analysis. That is why we work hand-in-glove with the intelligence agencies. We are looking at how the threat is evolving all the time so that we are not operating by fighting the last war, as it were. We are constantly looking at where the new threats might be coming from. We have just been talking about cyber as an example.
Q99 Steve Baker: If I were to play that back, what I am hearing is that it is all about time, place and people, so taking security staff, police officers and whoever else and putting them in the right place at the right time to respond to intelligence, however it has been gathered. Is that a fair characterisation?
John Fuller: There is a bit more system to it than that suggests. We have a tiered approach where stations are categorised into the top, middle or lowest band of risk. It does not require a detailed daily reassessment. You have that pattern already established, but that pattern can be adjusted according to what we are hearing from the intelligence agencies.
Q100 Steve Baker: If I were to put it another way, it is not about systematic measures that apply to the entire network uniformly because you just do not have the resources or it would be incompatible with mass transit.
John Fuller: There are three response levels. Each response level has measures that are in force for all the stations that fall into that group. If you put the three groups together, you have a set of measures that cover the whole network; it is just that they are not the same measures at every station. They are adjusted accordingly.
Mr Burns: It gives an approach where measures and resources can be placed where they are most needed at any given time. There is no point in spreading too thinly across a whole network where there is no threat. Given that a risk-based approach, which is frankly at the heart of our requirements, ensures that it has to be commensurate with current threat and vulnerabilities, effective, practical and sustainable, you can then concentrate your resources where they are most needed rather than wasting them by spreading them so thinly over a wider area.
Q101 Steve Baker: Are there any conceivable practical alternatives to a risk-based approach? At the moment, it sounds like there aren’t.
John Fuller: Not with the current state of technology. If technology delivered us something that was able to scan without delay and to pick people out in a crowded environment, you can imagine a situation where technology would give us more options than we currently have. As it stands at the moment, a risk-based approach is the only feasible approach to allow enough security in the places where the threat is greatest.
Q102 Steve Baker: Are there any practical measures that could be applied across the network that the mass transit systems we have could survive? I rather imagine that, if we added airport-style security to a mass transit system, it would just bring all of our cities to a stop, wouldn’t it?
Mr Burns: It depends what your definition of "mass transit" is. If you are talking about the rail network-
Steve Baker: Underground and buses.
Mr Burns:-there are so many stations that it would be spread very thinly. Often, at the point where there is little or no threat, there is little point concentrating resources. What you want is to concentrate your resources where there are, potentially, far greater dangers and threat to be able to thwart, overcome or whatever. The idea of having police, to take the rail network, at every station is not necessary because there are many stations where there would not be a threat. You want more in the more high-profile stations that are considered to be at a far greater threat or potential threat.
Q103 Steve Baker: The point I was driving at, to see whether you would agree with me, is that, even if resources were infinite, the system could not bear the application of those resources to widespread checks. It is back to your technological point, isn’t it?
John Fuller: With the current state of technology, it would be an insupportable cost and it would mean that the system could not deliver people quickly to where they needed to go.
Q104 Steve Baker: So there is no practical alternative to a risk-based system, because that is just physically the way the world is.
John Fuller: We don’t believe so, no.
Mr Burns: We certainly think that is the most effective way.
Q105 Chair: Minister, you have said a few times that it is important to use resources where they are needed and not to spread them out. Does the present system accommodate the need to deal with cross-border services and where there are vulnerabilities at borders that can affect the safety of UK nationals and UK businesses? It could be to do with freight, road transport or rail. Does the current system allow us to deal with that?
Mr Burns: Yes; I think we do have a robust system in both spheres. The cross-border rail system, of course, is Eurostar. That has robust systems both on the French side of the channel tunnel and on the British side. It is a secure form of transportation of people. I suppose the nearest analogy is aviation because you go into a secure zone, your details are checked and you cannot get off the train, if you are going from England to France or Belgium, until you have left the UK and vice versa.
On the freight system, we operate a slightly different system from the French. Certainly, if you are an acknowledged organisation and you are putting the freight together in your own premises, whether it is a Ford car company or whatever, it will be done and the way you do it and your procedures will be checked and monitored. Then the freight is sealed so that, if any tampering is done, it will become apparent. If it is not a recognised freight deliverer, it will be done at the place of exit before the freight goes through the tunnel and on to the continent.
The French approach is not to seal freight but to check it all. Both approaches work well. We are obviously in close contact with the French, as they are with us, to ensure that the system is robust and secure.
Q106 Graham Stringer: This is a slightly depressing experience, Minister, because I agree with most of what you have said, which makes it less exciting. It seems to me, having read the accession documents for Croatia, that one of the vulnerabilities of the European system that come in here is the European borders. Have you made any representations to the Commission to improve security at the borders of Europe, particularly with Croatia joining the EU later this year, probably?
Mr Burns: If you are talking about whether the Department for Transport has, I am almost certain in saying that the answer is no, because, of course, the lead Government Department on border control and illegal immigration is the Home Office. We work both at ministerial and official level very closely with the Home Office, but it is, of course, the lead Department in that area.
Q107 Graham Stringer: But there is an issue of transport security, isn’t there, of containers, trains and lorries coming across the borders and not being properly checked at some of the more eastern and southern countries?
Mr Burns: There have historically been problems that you and I are familiar with. We certainly have confidence in the transportation of freight with the security systems that both the French operate for freight coming into this country and the systems that we have, which is probably less relevant to your question, of freight leaving our country and going to the continent. We believe that the system is robust and is serving its purpose. There are problems of human trafficking into this country. Again, through the lead of the Home Office, considerable work has been done both by the last Government and this Government to seek to minimise the problems. Although there is still a level of problem there, we will continue to work with the Home Office, and the Home Office will continue to work with other Governments to minimise problems there. We also have, of course, the ongoing situation with regard to Eurostar and Lille, and border controls there.
Q108 Graham Stringer: In answer to Mr Baker’s questions, we came to the conclusion that there is no real alternative to a risk-based security system for this country. How can we, as a Committee, tell the difference between a risk-based system and just keeping our fingers crossed?
Mr Burns: Can I reassure this Committee that it certainly is not the approach of keeping our fingers crossed? We believe that a risk-based approach is the best and most effective approach. You can rest assured that considerable work is done, day in and day out, to give the highest level of protection to both the transportation system and to those using it.
Q109 Graham Stringer: I ask the question because, after the Atocha bombings in Madrid, where they had used a similar system of security and nearly 200 people ended up dead, they then completely changed their security system in Madrid after there had been that attack. My guess is that the Spanish wished they had had that system in place before the bombs and had saved those lives and injuries that took place.
The question I am asking is how you can tell a system is working until it is failing. How can we assess whether you are testing that kind of system? Obviously, the Spanish, under, possibly, a similar threat to this country, have come to different conclusions in their capital city.
Mr Burns: I would certainly hesitate to comment on what the Spanish have and have not done or the changes they may have made. That is a matter for the Spanish Government and the Spanish security forces. What I would say is what I said earlier. We believe, from our experience and from the way in which the system operates and is worked, that it is the most effective way to give the maximum amount of protection in this country to the transportation system domestically-passengers and freight. I do not know if my colleagues would like to add to that.
Andrew Cook: Perhaps I can just articulate that measures are in place; there is a level of enforcement around to make sure that they are taken care of. What happens is that the Department for Transport has compliance inspectors who go round and check to make sure that the railway operators, whether it is Network Rail or train operating companies, are carrying out their inspections. Similarly, with Eurostar and Eurotunnel, there are procedures in place that they need to carry out and there are checks against them. There is a certainty that the level of security that the Government require is being met either through covert tests or regular frequent visits to the different sites.
Q110 Chair: Do you agree with the proposal to set up Advisory and Stakeholder Advisory Groups? How do you see the Department being involved with those?
Andrew Cook: Perhaps I can answer first. There is some caution about the need for the Advisory Group. Certainly, the Government’s view is that it is certainly something it should be involved in. One area that we seem to be quite clear on is the sharing of best practice. That does seem to be a useful mechanism to do that. The proposal is to have two different types of Advisory Groups-
Chair: That is right.
Andrew Cook:-one with member states involved and one with the operators. Again, we welcome that in making sure that both sides of the equation are aware of what is available. It would allow for the sharing of best practice and, as technology comes on board, being able to disseminate that better.
Q111 Chair: Do you see that as the main work that those groups would do?
Andrew Cook: Certainly, yes; that is where it would bring the most advantage rather than trying to bring forward European legislation.
Q112 Chair: Is there any possibility that TruckPol could be reinstated?
Mr Burns: As you will appreciate, the decision was taken by the Home Office in the context of a budget of just under £9 billion. They took the decision that there were other ways to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of their spending, but, frankly, it would be up to any police and crime commissioner who might wish to spend money from their budgets locally to take part in TruckPol to do so if they wanted to.
Chair: Thank you very much.