The Chief Coroner has called for armed police to be stationed at all gates into Parliament in the wake of the Westminster terror attack.
Mark Lucraft QC raised a string of “concerns” after ruling that four members of the public and Pc Keith Palmer were unlawfully killed by terrorist Khalid Masood.
On March 22 last year, Masood, 52, mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four and seriously injuring 29, before stabbing unarmed Pc Palmer to death at the Palace of Westminster.
On Thursday, Mr Lucraft issued a detailed report on “action to prevent future deaths”, including stationing armed guards at the gates.
He wrote: “It was a matter of concern that, at the time of the attack, one of the most vulnerable and public entrances to the Parliamentary Estate was not protected by armed police.
“In my view, the Metropolitan Police Service should consider imposing a standing order that there should be armed officers stationed at all open public entry points to the Palace of Westminster and introducing a provision that this standing order may only be varied with the written approval of an officer of very senior rank.”
In the autumn, the Old Bailey inquest heard how Masood stabbed unarmed Pc Palmer, who was guarding the gates of the Palace of Westminster with other unarmed colleagues.
Masood’s rampage was stopped by a close protection officer, identified only as SA74, who shot him three times with a Glock pistol.
The other victims were American tourist Kurt Cochran, 54, retired window cleaner Leslie Rhodes, 75, mother-of-two Aysha Frade, 44, and Romanian designer Andreea Cristea, 31.
The coroner concluded that Pc Palmer’s death may have been avoided had armed police officers been stationed at Carriage Gates at the time of the attack.
He also found “shortcomings” in the supervision of police officers stationed at Westminster.
Mr Lucraft issued a string of suggestions to the Met about how armed officers at Parliament received their post instructions.
He called for “lone actor or multi-actor marauding attacks” to be included in officers’ training.
On the security services’ knowledge of Masood before the attack, Mr Lucraft suggested that intelligence agencies should consider if it was “practicable and beneficial” to log its reasons when making a decision to close down a “subject of interest”.
The coroner recommended Transport for London look at the height of parapets and railings on bridges, after two victims fell from Westminster Bridge when they were struck by Masood.
Ms Cristea lay face-down and unconscious in the River Thames for minutes as she was hooked by a passing cruiser and then lifted out by a fire service boat.
The coroner said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency or some other agency could issue guidance on how to retrieve unconscious bodies from water.
The families of the victims had also raised concerns during the inquest that Masood was able to hire a car to use as a lethal weapon.
Mr Lucraft recommended that the Deportment for Transport and British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association look at introducing a code of practice on making checks before vehicles are rented.
The coroner’s report on preventing future deaths was sent to various agencies, including the Police Commissioner and Parliamentary Authorities.
Jill Greenfield, from Fieldfisher law firm, said the coroner’s wide-reaching report was very welcome, specifically the instructions to the motor insurance industry to carry out more detailed checks before renting out particularly heavy vehicles.
She said: “Given that we’re working with victims of terrorist attack at Finsbury Park Mosque and Westminster Bridge where, on both occasion, vehicles were used as weapons to kill and seriously injure people, any additional security that can be introduced to prevent similar attacks in the future is extremely important.”
A lawyer for the widow of murdered Pc Keith Palmer welcomed the coroner’s call to improve security in the wake of the Westminster terror attacks, saying it was “imperative” recommendations were implemented to “keep our cities safe”.
Patrick Maguire, of Slater and Gordon, represents the widows of victims Kurt Cochran and Pc Palmer.
He said: “We are pleased to see the coroner’s recommendations have taken into consideration the concerns raised by the families.
“We welcome all these recommendations, in particular in relation to the security arrangements at the Palace of Westminster, and feel it is imperative they are implemented as soon as possible, to keep our cities safe, and those who work tirelessly to protect the public.
“It demonstrates that lessons have been learnt from this horrendous attack and it is hoped that by implementing these recommendations, further deaths will be avoided.”