Friday, July 29, 2005

Fear grips London

Londoners, far from being stoic and calm, are cowering in fear. Bicycle use in the centre of London has risen significantly as has the use of private cars. Tourism is down according to figures released this week. Although the tube system is gradually coming back on line, many are opting for taxis or buses in order to get from A to B. Expressions of Londoners’ fears are not hard to find. London’s radio talk shows are full of these sentiments. One grandmother said, “I don’t mind taking the risk myself, but I wouldn’t take the [grand] children up there”. A taxi driver, spoken to a week after the 7/7 attacks, said he had left the city on the day of the explosions and had only returned the following Wednesday. ASLEF members refused to drive trains following the failed attacks of the 21st. And as the Edgware Rd station opened today only a few passengers took the first trains. Those who do use the transport network cannot fail to miss the constant eye contact of other passengers as people scrutinize each other. The paranoia is not confined to commuters. Police have saturated the transport network with officers, many armed and some with sniffer dogs. Stop and search procedures have increased, and not just those fitting the ethnic profile of the ‘suicide bomber’. Train spotters, professional photographers, members of the press and commuters have all been subject to Stop & Search procedures. And as the paranoia increases so the sales of ‘Emergency Kits’ have increased by 150% in the last few weeks. The kit containing a basic first aid kit, a whistle, torch, water and dust mask sells for £18.
Comments by Ian Blair only compound the fear, "It does remain possible that those at large will strike again, and it does also remain possible that there are other cells that are capable and intent on striking again" he said Thursday
[12:53 GMT 29/07/2005]

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