- London Metropolitan Police
Police are rolling out a new technology that would place steel spikes on London’s roads to prevent the vehicle-ramming attacks which have become the favoured method of terrorists in Europe.
The new equipment – called a “Talon” – takes the form of a net and features hundreds of tungsten steel strikes that jut out from the road, according to a London Metropolitan Police statement issued on Sunday.
The Talon won’t be a permanent feature on the city roads, but can deployed during a potentially hostile vehicle attack. The net can be rolled out by two officers in less than one minute, and can stop vehicles up to 17 tonnes, the Met added.
If a vehicle drives over the Talon, the spikes are designed to puncture the tyres, while the net should become tangled in the vehicle’s front wheels and force it to stop.
The vehicle will also skid in a straight line, which would reduce the risk to surrounding crowds and produce “a well controlled stop after which officers can engage with the driver,” the police statement said.
17 tonnes is roughly the weight of a small lorry – meaning Talon mats would likely have been effective against the ramming attacks on London Bridge earlier this year, and the massacre on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, both of which used rented vans.
- Ricard Belis Garcia/ Twitter
Lorries – which were used in attacks in Berlin and Nice in recent years – are usually heavier than the 17-tonne operational limit, so would have been less effective.
The Met debuted the new tool at a parade down Whitehall, central London, on Sunday, but did not have a vehicle drive over the net at the event.
Police have the technology elsewhere, however, a police spokesman told Business Insider.
Here’s what the Talon’s spikes look like close up:
- London Metropolitan Police
Vehicles used to ram pedestrians have become the weapon of choice in European terror attacks, and have killed more than 100 people since the start of 2017.
A lone assailant rammed a 4×4 car into dozens of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in March, injuring dozens before stabbing a police officer and attempting more attacks.
Three men also drove a van into people on London Bridge in June, before abandoning it to carry out multiple stabbing attacks in nearby Borough Market.
Vehicle-ramming attacks became a popular modus operandi in terrorist operations after an attacker rammed a white truck into a crowd in Nice and killed 85 people during Bastille Day celebrations last year. Three weeks ago, 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub also drove a van down the busy Las Ramblas in Barcelona and killed 13.
The Talon “is likely to become a familiar sight at events that attract large crowds in London,” said the Met, adding that this was “just one of a number of methods” that will be used to protect people.
Police have already permanently installed vehicle crash barriers onto nine bridges and other busy sites across London following the Westminster and London Bridge attacks.