Explosives Officer reflects on incident response | Counter Terrorism Policing

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Explosives Officer reflects on incident response

On 15 September 2017, an explosion occurred on a District Line train at Parsons Green underground station in London.

Two Explosives Officers standing in front of a police car

Explosives Officers wearing protection equipment

Scores of people were injured after an IED partially exploded inside a carriage, many receiving hospital treatment for burn injuries.

The 18-year-old perpetrator was arrested within 24 hours of the incident.

He was later found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years.

An Explosives Officer from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) reflects on the role he and his colleague, a serving police officer, played in the initial response that day:

“As is often the way, our shift had started completely normally. I was sorting out some of my personal equipment, when my colleague came flying down the stairs to tell me there had been an explosion at Parsons Green.”

“All we knew at that stage was that there had been an incident inside a carriage, and that there were people injured.”

“As we made our way to the scene, we did think about what we might be about to face, but we have a job to do, and a job to get right, so anything else is always a fleeting thought.”

“On arrival, the station was flooded with emergency service colleagues, and my assistant and I were directed through the crowds to the platform and the carriage where the explosion had happened.”

“Walking along the length of the train, we got our first sight of the device through the windows; a smouldering pot, which we quickly suspected to contain homemade explosives.”

“At this point, our priority was to bring the device under control and ensure that it didn’t detonate fully or reignite again.”

“Whilst colleagues extended the cordon and cleared everyone away from the platforms and off the balcony above, I entered the train, approaching the device through acrid smoke.”

Blue light partners work together to respond to incidents quickly

“You become hyper-aware of what’s in front of you, very quickly assessing every tiny detail in and around the device. Running through options to make the device safe as quickly and safely as possible.”

“Every device requires a different approach or tactic, although experience, team work and a calm head help.”

“What motivates you to do the best possible job at an incident, is knowing that you have a vital part to play in ensuring someone is brought to justice for their crimes.”


If you see something that doesn’t feel right, report it online at gov.uk/ACT. In an emergency always call 999.