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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 15:02 GMT
MI5 agents check water reservoirs
Roadford Reservoir
The agents are looking at risk prevention plan for reservoirs
Security service personnel have visited the South West to investigate the vulnerability of the region's water supplies to a terrorist attack.

A party of about 20 agents from MI5 and Scotland Yard looked at reservoirs and drinking water works operated by South West Water (SWW) and Wessex Water.

The visit was to see if supplies could be poisoned, but was not in response to a specific threat.

SWW said government agencies visited periodically over security issues.

The party from London stayed for two days while water company security consultants showed them around several locations, including water treatment works and reservoirs.

The officers were looking at what measures could be taken to guard against possible attacks.

Annual exercises

Terrorism issues expert Bill Tupman from the University of Exeter said of the security visit: "You've obviously got to have a plan in place for what to do if something goes wrong; and from time to time you need to test that plan.

"Although it's difficult to reduce risk to absolute zero, you can take a number of simple measures to reduce the risk of attack by a significant amount."

BBC South West Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Hall said the visit was being used as an example to the rest of the water industry to see what precautions were being taken.

South West Water said various government agencies visit its works from time to time to check counter-terrorism measures.

The Home Office said it never commented on security matters.

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