Britain Dangerously Unprepared for Chemical or Biological Attack

By Burrell, Ian | The Independent (London, England), September 23, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Britain Dangerously Unprepared for Chemical or Biological Attack


Burrell, Ian, The Independent (London, England)


Britain's emergency planning officers have warned ministers the country is ill-prepared to cope with a chemical or biological terrorist attack in spite of the heightened fears of such an event after the World Trade Centre atrocity.

A secret meeting in Whitehall was held on Friday to put Britain's emergency services on full alert for the nation to withstand a mass terrorist attack. A new national civil emergencies agency is being set up to handle the threat

However, the Independent on Sunday has learned that emergency planning officers, based at local authorities around Britain, complained that central Government has been denying them any specialist information on how to make contingency plans for chemical or biological attacks.

Their protests raise doubts about whether Britain could cope with a mass attack on the population by terrorists. The Emergency Planning Society, which represents more than 80 per cent of professionals in the field, revealed that Britain's civil defence budget had collapsed from pounds 25.1m in 1991-1992 after the Gulf War to pounds 14.1m in 2000-2001, a fall of 44 per cent.

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