Force ‘confident’ police can cope during Olympics

LENDING A HAND Officers from Hampshire will be helping to police the Olympic Games
LENDING A HAND Officers from Hampshire will be helping to police the Olympic Games

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SENIOR police officers insist they will be able to cope as more than 500 officers are shipped out to help with the Olympic Games.

As previously reported in The News, 506 Hampshire officers will undertake duties in other force areas during London 2012.

Officers will help the Metropolitan Police and also assist with events in Dorset and Thames Valley for a total of 68 days while the Games take place.

It means as many as 192 officers will be away from Hampshire on some days.

Despite the move deputy Chief Constable Andy Marsh says he is ‘very confident’ the force can cope with policing locally during the period.

He said: ‘We have been planning our support for the Olympics for well over 12 months.

‘We have put a great deal of time and attention to detail in ensuring we have got more than the minimum staffing levels throughout the Olympic period.

‘We are a big force which means we have a very significant amount of resilience capability and capacity.

‘We’re used to dealing with more than one critical incident at a time.

‘I’m confident that we have the ability to cope with whatever the future may bring.’

The cost of mutual aid during the period is an estimated £1.8m. But the bill is to be footed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – not taxpayers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Up to 10 per cent of officers are allowed to take annual leave between July 11 and August 13 compared with the usual 20 per cent, training considered ‘non-essential’ is cancelled and volunteers and special constables will also help out.

Mr Marsh said: ‘In the event we do need some outside help we won’t hesitate in asking for it if we need it.

‘We have close working relationships with neighbouring forces and local arrangements around mutual aid. Police forces in England and Wales have the ability to mobilise resources through the Police National Information Co-ordination Centre.’

He added: ‘We are very proud of being able to protect the public when they need us.’

Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson added: ‘It’s all been in the planning.

‘My priority is to make sure we are resilient and ready to cope with the demands of this period.

‘Police officers in Hampshire are taking less annual leave and we have got to pay tribute to the commitment and flexibility and vocation of being a police officer because they are putting the public completely first.’

Previously, Cllr Sean Woodward, vice-chairman of Hampshire Police Authority’s finance committee, had raised concerns about how the force would cope in the event of a major incident in Hampshire during the period.

He said: ‘The reassurance I have been given is that there are plans in place.’