Ring of Steel

ring of steel by paul dalimore

watched by anna barriball

The ring of steel is the popular name for the security and surveillance cordon surrounding the City of London, installed to deter the IRA and other threats. The term was borrowed from an earlier stage of the Troubles when the centre of Belfast was fortified against attacks, the perimeter of which was known as the ring of steel. Roads entering the City are narrowed and have small chicanes to force drivers to slow down and be recorded by CCTV cameras. These roads typically have a concrete median with a sentry box where police can stand guard and monitor traffic. City planners call these types of precautions ‘fortress urbanism.’

Initially the ring of steel consisted of plastic cones and on duty policemen which the locals described as the ‘ring of plastic.’ It served the purpose of providing a visible sign to the public that the City authorities were taking the threats of more attacks by the IRA seriously. This was replaced by more permanent structures consisting of concrete barriers, checkpoints and thousands of video cameras. Following IRA ceasefires the police presence was curtailed. However, following the September 11 attacks, and a reported increased terrorist threat to the United Kingdom, security was stepped up again somewhat, with occasional spot checks on vehicles entering the cordon, although not to previous levels.

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