This is a very timely roundtable. We have witnessed recently the wide range of security challenges to major cities around the world which their governing bodies have to cope with.
Terrorism of course attracts attention which other risks do not, though it is the case that much of the planning that is needed to protect against terrorism and respond to the eventuality has wider application to mitigating the risks inherent in other types of emergency.
London is no stranger to terrorist attacks but, compared to 7/7, the attacks in Mumbai and Lahore show how the threat has evolved in the intervening years. An attack modelled on Mumbai and Lahore challenges our planning assumptions and would place a burden on the capabilities of our blue light services quite different from what we have seen hitherto. It would not just be a case of simply dealing with the consequences of an attack, as was the case on 7/7 - and that was difficult enough - it would be a case of meeting the terrorists head on.
I pose these questions to illustrate a point: that that civil contingencies can escalate, moving quickly beyond the responsibilities of individual Departments and agencies. In this context, how do we make sure that all relevant actors share the same risk assessment and develop and co-ordinate their contingency and emergency response plans in light of that?
<h2>Public Order Disturbances</h2>
Then there are the challenges to public order posed by political and economic unrest. Without question the deteriorating economic situation has increased the potential for unrest in urban areas as we saw with the G20 protests but, as we see in Parliament Square, protests can also result from the interaction of events abroad with diasporas in our cities. Such situations pose challenges to public order policing.
Quite apart from these direct security challenges to our cities, there are today in the UK problems inherent in the critical infrastructure that supports our daily lives. The Institution of Civil Engineers produces an annual 'State of the Nation Report' which assess the UK's infrastructure.
I said that the challenges were actually within our critical infrastructure. Quite apart from our critical infrastructure being vulnerable to terrorist attack or natural hazards against which we must harden it
So what about the money? The current economic environment and its medium to long term effects as well as constrained public spending will pose challenges for any government in ensuring investment in improving and upgrading our infrastructure, and we will need to look at a wide range of innovative funding mechanisms in conjunction with private sector operators.
All of these factors also, of course, need to be considered in the context of the 2012 Olympic Games. This will be the subject of a roundtable later today but as we consider the risks to cities this morning we should all bear in mind the question: the Games pose a challenge, but also an opportunity. Can we use them to galvanise us into action to provide a lasting legacy for our security and resilience?