'You have one minute to get out' police tell Sunbury residents
UK security and counter-terrorism The Observer âYou have one minute to get outâ police tell Sunbury residents Armed officers in terrorism raid connected to Parsons Green bombing race to evacuate suburban street
The residents of Cavendish Road in Sunbury-on-Thames had suspected something was up long befor e the police ordered them to evacuate their homes on Saturday afternoon.
Since Friday a large number of officers had been seen on the quiet Surrey street of terraced ex-council houses and many had linked the police presence to Fridayâs tube attack at Parsons Green.
âI only had to open the door and I saw police everywhere,â said Mojgan Jamali, a mother of three.
By Saturday morning â" 12 hours after the threat level had been increased to critical, suggesting a further attack was feared imminent â" the speculation had become frenzied. âThere were a lot of rumours going on, a lot of stories, people saying this and that, but we didnât know,â Jamali said. âEarlier the police came round and asked if we could look after another family in our home for a little while, which I was obviously happy to do.â
Then, shortly before two on Saturday afternoon, the rumours crystallised into reality. âI was in my house with my children and there was a knock at the door from the police,â Jamali said. âThey told me to leave. They said: âYou have one minute to get out of the house and get away.â I got out, I got my three children and we left the house and the street.â
Many residents were taken to the local Staines Rugby Football Club, where the adults were given tea and the children cordial. The clubâs finance director, Dan Norcott, said the police had contacted them earlier on Saturday to see if it could take people in. âThe younger people are more relaxed, but the older people are shaken up,â he told the BBC.
Alison Griffiths, a local Conservative councillor, said that many of the elderly residents were particularly rattled by the events of the day, when black-clad police descended on the street. She said: âThereâs a good community spirit around here so people will stick together and look after each other. There is crime, but weâve never experienced something like this.â
The evacuation came on a day of high drama following the arrest just before 8am of an 18-year-old man in Dover. Speaking after a meeting of the governmentâs emergency Cobra committee, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, described the arrest as âvery significantâ, but added: âThe operation is ongoing.â
On Saturday it emerged the Sunbury house that was raided is registered to the foster carers Penelope, 71, and Ronald Jones, 88, who were awarded MB Es in the 2009 New Year honours list for services to children and families.
Serina Barner, 45, a local resident who said that she knew the couple, spoke of how they had taken in dozens of foster children over the years.
âTheyâve lived there for as long as Iâve known them,â she said. âI know Pennie Jones. She used to be part of the youth centre and was friends with everyone. Those of us who have lived here for many years know each other well.
âI know that they have taken in a lot refugee children although they didnât necessarily specialise in them. She has a big heart. If anyone needed a big heart then she would take them in. She wouldnât take a lot in at the one time. It tended to be one or two and she would put everything into them. She was a big part of the community and was very invested in it.â
The Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said that her officers had been working at a very high tempo. âWe have had some ghastl y attacks and people have had to cope with really traumatic incidents. Not just terrorism but of course the horrors of the Grenfell fire. So Iâm very proud of the Met people. They are tough, they are resilient, they are very determined, they are very passionate.â
Iâll probably leave the earphones off and take a bit more notice of what is around meRichard Bent, resident of Sunbury-on-Thames
The vast manhunt was launched after an improvised device partially exploded on a District Line train at Parsons Green tube station during the Friday morning rush hour, injuring 30 people. Three victims remain in hospital, NHS England said.
Fridayâs device reportedly contained the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and was packed with nails, but is thought to have only partially detonated from inside a bucket.
Rudd hinted that changes to the law, bringing new restrictions on dangerous chemicals, could be on the ca rds.
âThere is no doubt that this was a serious IED; it was good fortune that it did so little damage. But we are very sympathetic to all the people who did get affected by it. I believe 26 people were impacted by the device, so we will have to take all steps we can to ensure the sort of materials this man was able to collect become more and more difficult to combine together. We will always learn from these sort of incidents.â
Outside the scene of the attack, some local people said that it had prompted them to think again about their personal safety. Richard Bent, taking his dachshund Reggie for a walk, insisted that life continued as normal in what he described as a âvillage communityâ. But he said that he might alter his behaviour a little when it came to the daily commute: âIâll probably leave the earphones off and take a bit more notice of what is around me, to be honest.â
Nine stops east from Parsons Green on the District Line, the scenes out side Westminster â" the possible target for the failed bombâs detonation â" resembled those on any other Saturday.
Along Whitehall, people queued to gain entry to public buildings as part of an open access day. Among those outside the gates of Downing Street was Toby Kavakeb, 24, who had come from Parsons Green, where he had heard commuters âcoming out shoutingâ on Friday morning. âMy immediate thought was that this would be cancelled, that life would stop, but it hasnât and Iâm really glad of that,â he said.
He said that there had been a different atmosphere on the tube earlier in the morning. âPeople were slightly wary in some ways, I think. They seemed to be looking around at things and each other.â
And he added: âThe other thing that was different was that we were actually talking to each other. Maybe this is changing us, maybe itâs bringing people together.âTopics
- UK security and counter-terrorism
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