SAS could test palace security

The SAS may be used to launch surprise mock raids on Royal palaces and events to test police security, it has been disclosed.

Members of the elite special forces, probably acting alone, could be sent in to probe for weaknesses in the protection operation around the Royals after comedian Aaron Barschak sneaked into Prince William's 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle on Saturday.

The revelation came as Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir John Stevens, who personally apologised over the fiasco, announced he was appointing a new security chief to beef up protection of the Royal Family.

The new security co-ordinator, who will be a commander or chief superintendent, will be appointed on Monday.

He or she will report directly to Scotland Yard's head of special operations, Assistant Commissioner David Veness, and will "link" with Commander Peter Loughborough, the 7th Earl of Rosslyn, who heads the 400-strong royalty and diplomatic protection group.

Sir John stressed the need to test security measures around the Royal Family more rigorously and admitted not enough work had been done to track and monitor "publicity seekers" such as Barschak.

Asked if the SAS could be used to test security around palaces, Sir John said: "If necessary we will."

Such an operation would be likely to see lone special forces soldiers or another expert trying to beat security systems in the manner of a terrorist.

A police source said: "We don't necessarily have to use police officers. We need a way of making sure we are on the ball."

An inquiry into Saturday's security debacle is being carried out by Commander Frank Armstrong of City of London Police and is expected to take four weeks. An interim report was expected in 10 days.

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