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Interagency Coordination: Lessons Learned From the 2005 London Train Bombings

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 261 Dated: October 2008 Pages: 28-32
Date Published
October 2008
5 pages
This second of a two-part series on interagency coordination that examines the response to the 2005 London bombings discusses in more detail the challenges faced by British agencies in responding to the attacks and lessons learned from them.
A study sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) found that although protocols followed by the multiple agencies that responded to the attacks significantly minimized major problems, communication, leadership, and legal difficulties impeded the coordination efforts. One of the most significant challenges faced by the London agencies was how to communicate with the victims' families. Victims found it difficult to get information on the status and location of injured or deceased loved ones. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) created a family assistance center on the day following the bombings. Legal issues related to privacy, however, kept authorities from sharing information with bombing survivors and their families, as the British Data Protection Act prohibits sharing personal data without the consent of those concerned. Responders also encountered problems with radio communications. Although the radio systems of the British Transport Police and London Underground staff worked in the subway tunnels, the radios of other responding agencies, including the MPS, did not. Leadership is crucial in developing and testing cross-agency systems prior to an emergency. Failures in leadership can also contribute to coordination-related problems, especially when attacks occur in different police jurisdictions, as was the case with the London bombings. Leaders in public safety and infrastructure administration must cooperate in planning responses for emergencies that require a coordinated response. The primary recommendation of this study is that existing coordination structures and activities among emergency response agencies be evaluated, so that agencies can objectively assess their coordination capacities and plan and implement improvements before a crisis occurs. 6 notes

Date Published: October 1, 2008