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Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 09:59 GMT
UK 'unready' for terror aftermath
Bomb wreckage in Bali
Bombings in Bali and Kenya have increased terror fears
The UK is not doing enough to ensure it could cope in the wake of a possible terrorist attack, says the government's former emergency planning chief.

Eric Alley wants more civilian volunteers trained up, as well as a specific central body to co-ordinate the government's handling of disasters.

The Conservatives have seized on his remarks as more evidence that ministers are not doing enough to prepare for the effects of a possible attack.


It must be admitted that we cannot actually prevent a terrorist attack

Eric Alley
Emergency planning expert
Mr Alley's criticisms come after it was announced that teams of health workers and military staff are to be vaccinated against smallpox in case of a bioterrorist attack.

Ministers say that decision is not based on any specific threat but is designed to ensure the NHS could cope.

Mr Alley is the government's former chief emergency planning officer and now Emeritius Professor at the Institute of Civil Defence and Disaster Studies.

Handling the aftermath

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The government are not really making any real efforts to plan exactly for what may happen to us in the event of a terrorist attack.

"They should be looking for a better standard of training.

"They are not preparing for the type of attack that happened on 11 September against the twin towers with the demolition of property and the burial of casualties, and the rescue of casualties.

"It must be admitted that we cannot actually prevent a terrorist attack.

"The terrorists will always get through one way or another, and we've got to look at the problems of dealing with what happens after they've made the attack."

Mr Alley earlier outlined his concerns in a letter to Tory shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin, who pressed ministers to take notice.

'Lack of co-ordination'

Mr Letwin told Today: "We've heard there the views of somebody who's been in this business for 50 years, so someone should be paying some attention to that.

"What I want to see is the government putting some political will behind gathering all those people, including this gentleman and many others who have a wealth of experience."

The Conservatives last week claimed a Cabinet Office email asking councils about their ability to cope with disasters showed how unprepared the government was for a terrorist atrocity.

On Tuesday, Mr Letwin said: "What I am hearing repeatedly from emergency planning officers around the country is that there is simply no co-ordination.

"There is a wealth of experience that's not being drawn on. There are nine government departments involved.

"There is no sense of urgency or of co-ordination, and that's really very alarming."


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26 Nov 02 | Politics
20 Jun 02 | Politics
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