‘PLEASE REMAIN VIGILANT’: TfL’s message to taxi and private hire drivers following Liverpool bombing
Transport for London (TfL) has told taxi and private hire drivers to ‘remain vigilant’ as UK national threat levels rise to severe following the private hire vehicle bombing in Liverpool last week.
The homemade bomb that exploded in a private hire vehicle outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital killed the suspected bomb-maker Emad Al Swealmeen, and injured the minicab driver on Friday 14 November.
Police officials now say the exploding device contained ball bearings and would have caused "significant injury or death" if it had exploded in different circumstances.
London’s taxi licensing authority TfL have tried calming the taxi and private hire sector by reassuring them that the police and security agencies are working tirelessly to protect the public, but have warned also, it is important that communities remain vigilant.
Advice from the police urges cabbies to be alert, but not alarmed, and remain vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour or activity to the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or in an emergency dial 999.
In the notice made available to all London licensed taxi and private hire drivers, Graham Robinson, General Manager for TfL Taxi and Private Hire, said: “Following the incident in Liverpool on 14 November 2021, where an explosion occurred within a taxi outside of Liverpool Women’s Hospital, the UK National Threat Level has been raised from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.
“Although the motivation for the incident is not yet clear, it has been declared a terrorist incident. The decision to increase the threat level reflects this was the second terrorist incident in a month, following the fatal attack on Sir David Amess MP on 15 October 2021.”
Robinson continued: “Transport for London continues to work closely with both police and government agencies. We ask that you please remain vigilant.
“Keeping yourselves and customers safe and secure is a key priority.
“Items left in your vehicle are likely to be items passengers have left behind, but if you are suspicious of an unattended item, call the police immediately on 999 and follow their instructions.”
“It is also important to be aware of what is going on around you and of anything that seems different or unusual or doesn’t feel right, or anyone that you think is acting suspiciously. It could be someone you know, a passenger or even someone or something you notice when you are driving that doesn’t feel quite right.
“You can report your concerns about suspicious activity to the confidential police anti- terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 or online.”
Yesterday Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, released further details on the suspected bomb-maker, saying: “The investigation into the terrorist incident at Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday 14 November continues.
“The taxi in which the device exploded has now been removed and today line searches by specialist officers will take place at the Hospital which could go into tomorrow.
“The post mortem on the deceased has taken place and the cause of death has been described as injuries sustained from the fire and explosion.
“A complex picture is emerging over the purchases of the component parts of the device, we know that Al Swealmeen rented the property from April this year and we believe relevant purchases have been made at least since that time.
“We have now traced a next of kin for Al Swealmeen who has informed us that he was born in Iraq.
“Our enquiries have found that Al Swealmeen has had episodes of mental illness, this will form part of the investigation and will take some time to fully understand.
“There is much comment in the media about Al Swealmeen and it is clear that he was known to many people. We continue to appeal for people who knew him, especially those who associated with him this year as we try and piece together the events leading up to this incident and the reasons for it.
“At this time we are not finding any link to others in the Merseyside area of concern but this remains a fast moving investigation and as more becomes known we cannot rule out action against others.”