Yesterday terror struck the heart of London after an attacker, armed with two large knives, forced his way through the gates in front of the Houses of Parliament, stabbing a policeman, who later died.
Up to five people – including the perpetrator – have been killed in the horrific incident with more than 40 injured, with several being reported as in being a serious condition.
The knifeman driving a 4×4 had mowed down pedestrians en route to Parliament on Westminster Bridge, injuring dozens including schoolchildren.
The attacker was shot dead at the scene by officers outside Parliament.
The car used by the attacker at the scene of the London terror attack
Speaking out after the horrific event, MPs have claimed it could have been prevented if the Parliament’s gate had been bolted and better guarded.
Mary Creagh, the MP for Wakefield, told the Telegraph: “It’s a terrible, terrible day for Parliament, the one weak spot on our estate is those carriage gates.
“We have four police officers there, two on the gate going in, two on the gate going out, we see them every day, we are friends with lots of them.”
She added: “I think we will need to look at security at the Palace [of Westminster] in the wake of this incident, but that is a plan for another day. I think tonight we need to be remembering all those who have been caught up in today’s tragic events.”
The attacker mowed through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge en route to the Houses of Parliament London Terror Attack: LIVE PICTURES Wed, March 22, 2017
Two dead, 12 injured as knifeman mows into crowd in Westminster
PA 1 of 36
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood (centre) helps emergency services attend to a police officer outside the Palace of Westminster, London
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Iain Duncan Smith, a former Cabinet minister, also questioned why an armed policeman was not on the gate and he claimed it was “little bit of a surprise that there was not”.
He added that the gate was a “vulnerability” because vehicles could enter.
The Metropolitan Police have since issued a statement confirming their officer, identified as 48-year-old Keith Palmer, who was killed in the incident was unarmed at the time of the attack.
The attacker rammed a 4×4 into the gates at Parliament before killing a police officer
I think we will need to look at security at the Palace [of Westminster] in the wake of this incident,
Mary Creagh, the MP for Wakefield
Parliamentary pass holders, who include MPs, journalists and staff, are allowed to enter the Westminster building through secure turnstiles without bag checks or scanners, while the public are screened via airport-type security at pedestrian entrances.
But the attack has raised questions about whether security outside Parliament may have slipped.
Security for MPs was reviewed after the murder of Jo Cox last year, although she was killed in her constituency, not near Parliament.
The threat level in the UK still remains at severe, which has been the case since 2014.
Police patrolling the Westminster area following the London attack
Peter Kirkham, former senior detective at the Metropolitan Police, said: "Whenever you've got a gate, you've got a weak spot.
"But there will be in place some sort of physical presence with police officers, for anybody rushing through the gates."
Despite the apparent criticism, MPs have also praised the response of the officers on duty outside Parliament.
HERO: Police officer Keith Palmer tried to stop the attacker but was killed outside of Parliament
Ms Creagh continued: “They put their lives in harm’s way for us and I just want to thank them for what they’ve done.
“My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families as they have been absolute heroes. They are the people who stand there and have witnessed this attack on our building and our security.
Richard Benyon, a Conservative MP, said he was “irritated” by reports that parliamentary security was breached.
Emergency services responding to the scene
He said on Twitter: “Attacker was taken down at gate. Highly professional response.”
Security was also tightened around Buckingham Palace following the attack and the Queen has cancelled her visit to the New Scotland Yard later today where she was due to open the Metropolitan Police’s new headquarters at Victoria Embankment, only a few hundred yards from the scene of the terror attacks.
Terrorism experts have warned the public to be vigilant of further attacks using vehicles.