First Thoughts & Preliminary Analysis of the London Attack, Doug Haines

By Doug Haines, MPSE, Haines Security Solutions

The following preliminary analysis is submitted with the understanding that after thorough investigation new information may come to light that will provide additional information about the final analysis of the attack that occurred on 22 March 2017 in the heart of London and all of this may change.

Threat Scenarios

In this instance, there were two threats scenarios carried out almost simultaneously or, at a minimum, in sequence of each other.

The first threat scenario involved a “ramming vehicle”. The mobile threat involved driving on a crowded sidewalk and injuring pedestrians.

The second threat involved the stabbing of a responding police officer.  Both scenarios, were perpetrated by a lone attacker.

Although, a single actor carried out both styles of attack, there certainly is a wider ring of support involved in both scenarios.  The coming months of investigation will prove this out.

Let’s address separately each threat, what happened and how we can protect against it in the future.

(London Terror Attack: Watch a special report. Courtesy of Sky News and YouTube)

Ramming Vehicle Threat

The lone coward used a vehicle to mow down innocent civilians as they were walking on a sidewalk.

I refuse to call him a terrorist because identifying him as such provides a level of legitimacy for his cause and I don’t think he deserves that.  We should call him a murderer because that’s what he was.  A low-life cowardly murderer.

To prevent something similar from happening in the future, we may need to look at the way we design walking spaces or pedestrian zones.

Perhaps raising curb height could be one option, so that a vehicle couldn’t jump the curb.

Additionally, placing barriers; such as, benches or flower pots, etc. along the walkway every so often could reduce the ability to drive down the sidewalk for any concernable distance.

The curb changes would take more time and probably be costlier, but in the meantime, I think barriers could be easily installed and be a very effective in the short term and in the long term serve as a permanent solution.

Picture of street furniture capable of absorbing kinetic energy created by a ramming vehicle. (Image Credit: SecureUSA)
Picture of street furniture capable of absorbing kinetic energy created by a ramming vehicle. (Image Credit: SecureUSA)

The “ramming vehicle” incidents in France and Germany, tell us that we must do a better job at creating perimeters where vehicles and pedestrians are in close proximity.

On the other hand, at locations where they must co-exist we’ll need to internally separate and create specific zones for vehicle traffic and pedestrians.

I don’t know why the “bad guy” crashed into the side of the bridge, I’m assuming he lost control and crashed, which effective stopped the threat.

Stabbing Threat

With the vehicle out of commission he was approached by a member of the police department, whom he stabbed to death.

Although, not a physical security measure per se, the policeman’s response incorporated three of the five elements of physical security.

The five pillars of physical security include; Detection, Assessment, Command and Control (Plans and Policies), Response and Engagement.

Again, I’m assuming, but I would venture to say that Policy required him to respond to the threat as far away from the target, in this case, the House of Parliament, as possible and engage the threat using allowable force.

I don’t know the policy on the use of force nor know if the hero was armed with a firearm or not. I believe he was unarmed.

By engaging the culprit in hand-to-hand or in close physical proximity he put his life between the threat and others and allowed his fellow officers the opportunity to neutralize the attacker.  A true hero in my book.

Emergency crews assist Police Constable Keith Palmer. (Image Credit:
Emergency crews assist Police Constable Keith Palmer. (Image Credit:

The Future

Rest assured, terrorism is not going to go away any time soon.

As fighters in the Middle-east are defeated militarily and territory is regained by opposition forces, they will return from the battlefield with skills sets in guerrilla warfare, bomb-making and firearms use.

Although, defeated militarily they will not have converted to a more moderate way of thinking – unfortunately.  They will continue to believe in their cause no matter how fanatical or absurd it is.

It will take them about a year to 18 months to establish their networks and plan attacks against their Homelands in the West.

We should be using this time to prepare for them so that we can reduce their effects when they do attack.

About the Author

Doug Haines, owner of Haines Security Solutions, LLC (HSS), is a United States Air Force veteran with over 45 years of law enforcement and security related experience, which includes teaching building design principles to architects, engineers, facility managers, planners, and security professionals.

Doug Haines, Owner of Haines Security Solutions
Doug Haines, Owner of Haines Security Solutions

HSS specializes in conducting quantitative risk and vulnerability assessments of federal, state and local facilities worldwide and other security related consulting services.

HSS also develops security criteria, conducts entry control point and security forces manpower studies, drinking water systems and critical energy infrastructure risk/vulnerability assessments, and develops, plans and conducts table-top and full scale antiterrorism, force-on-force, emergency response and disaster preparedness exercises.

(Learn More about Haines Security Solutions capabilities. Courtesy of Haines Security and YouTube)