I woke up on the morning of 7/7. It was like any other day and I was due to give evidence in the local Magistrates Court for an assault I dealt with a few weeks before.I got up and got ready for work. I put my uniform on and went to the station as usual and got my kit on. I have spoken before about the unpredictability of a Police Officers work and 7/7 certainly reinforces that claim. NOTHING would prepare the Police for what would happen later that morning.
I arrived at court and as per the building rules my radio and mobile phone were switched off as I sat in the witness room with witnesses in the case and other Police Officers. I cannot recall the time but a Court Usher walked into the room. The man had a very serious face and for some reason I knew that what he was about to say was not good news. The Court Usher then said “You lot had better switch your radios on. Court is cancelled and you are all required to return to your home stations as a matter of urgency”.
When my radio had logged on to the network the first transmission I heard was the Force Control Room Inspector talking to the Divisional Inspector telling him that an emergency briefing was to take place as there had been multiple explosions on the transport system in the London area. My force along with others were preparing to send emergency aid into the City.
The attacks were committed by four home grown Islamist terrorists who were called Hasib Hussain, Germaine Lindsey, Mohammad Sadique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. All but Germaine (who was of Jamacian orgin) were from Pakistan but resided here in England. 52 people died in total and 700 + were injured in four bombs that went off on Underground Trains and a double decker bus in Tavistock Square.
Although I was not deployed directly to the City I was given a equally as important assignment. I was deployed to a railway station that was on a direct link from Gatwick Airport into London. Stop and Search powers under the Terrorism Act had been granted by the Chief Constable and my briefing was to challenge any suspicious persons carrying rucksacks and investigate any suspicious packages.
Take a moment to watch this news clip on the attacks.
I had started my shift at 7am that day and at arond 2PM (two hours before I am due to finish for the day) I have been told that NO officer or PCSO is to book off duty until further notice. I am tired and I have not eaten. I arrive at the railway station, which was a large train station with about six platforms. Once there I commence my patrols and start conducting basic searches of litter bins and waiting rooms to check for unattended bags etc.
My patrols continued over the next few hours and I had received a few phone calls from family members who were worried thinking I was in the thick of it. To be honest I knew I had a important task but I felt like a spare part as I really wanted to be in the thick of it helping those in need. It was frustrating as I knew that people were still trapped and that my Met colleagues could have used every pair of hands they could get.
At about half past six that evening a train came to a halt at one of the platforms. I remember this woman running towards me screaming. As she ran towards me she shouted there is a bomb on the train. Immediately I contacted the control room and having switched my radio and mobile phone off I boarded the train.
I will openly admit that I was frightened and suddenly all I could think about was seeing my son. I had no idea what I would be faced with, or even if I would be luckily enough not to be blown up. The woman had said to me that she had found a cardboard box wedged between two seats and that it had some sort of Islamic writing on the box. She felt this box had been concealed intentionally.
I locate the box and I will be honest my heart sunk!!! There was a cardboard box wedged between the two seats with Islamic writing on it. This looked very out of place and I had formed the opinion that this may well be a bomb of some description. I was not taking any chances so I ordered a evacuation of the train and the station.
The Control Room had informed the Control Room Inspector who contacted me directly for a full description of the box and its location so that he could deploy Bomb Disposal Personnel to the scene. Whilst most people were happy to leave the train station as quickly as they could I was gob smacked by the attitude of some passengers and one man in particular will always stick in my mind.
This man was wearing an expensive suit, was carrying an umbrella and a briefcase. He was upset to say the least at having his journey stopped. He was going nuts at me screaming that he had been at work all day and he wanted to get home. I remained calm and after nearly five minutes of mixed emotions, stress and fear for people’s life I snapped. I said something along the lines of telling him to shut up and that I was trying to save the life of others and that I had far more important things to worry about than him being late. The man continued to scream at me to the point I threatened him with being arrested for obstruction if he continued to prevent me from doing what I needed to do.
Having successfully evacuated the train station and halting all trains due to travel through I stood on a cordon at the front of the train station to prevent anyone re entering. We waited for what seemed forever until the Bomb Disposal Team arrived.
The Bomb Disposal Team are some of the bravest people I know. I had joined the Territorial Army, I wanted to do Bomb Disposal but my family soon put me straight on that so I joined the Military Police instead. I escorted the soldier to where the package was. I was not comfortable going back on that train but a Police Officer has to do things they are uncomfortable with everyday of their life.
The soldier looked at me and the next words out of his mouth made me even more scared than I already was. “Oh Fuck” he said! I was then ordered away from the train. A man wearing a bomb safety suit then went to the train carrying some equipment. He conducted his assessment and decided that he needed a portable X ray machine.
The result after the XÂ ray was what I wanted to hear. It turned out that the box contained Water Melons of some description. This was music to my ears and I quickly started to feel that I had caused a scene for nothing. However the thought of doing nothing and people losing their life as a result compensated for this.
Having removed the box of melons people were allowed to return to the train and continue with their journey. However the man I had snapped at made a point of stopping to remind me what a jobs worth I was and that he wanted my warrant number so he could complain about my making him late to the Chief Constable.
At about 11PM I was given permission to go home. I had been working since 7am and had only managed to eat a sandwich that I was given by the manager of the train station cafe. I remember stood eating it in a cycle shed with the rain pouring down around me. So much for a 45 minute break.
Yesterday was the anniversary of 7/7 and although this happened seven years ago the events of 7/7 were still fresh in my mind. I really do not know what went through the heads of the victims and the emergency services that attended that day.
If there are any doubters out there I ask you to think to yourself – Would I Cope Dealing With That Incident? But more Importantly Could I cope Dealing With That Incident?
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