OVER the course of two days (30 June and 1 July), residents of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Oldbury, Smethwick, Solihull, Walsall, West Bromwich, Willenhall and Wolverhampton will see the iconic Midlands manufactured torch pass through their streets as officers from across the force come together to ensure its safe passage.
Working closely with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and local authorities who are responsible for road closures and a host of Olympic related cultural events, WMP is well on track for success by providing a comprehensive yet low-key policing operation for this major sporting event.
Geo-Spatial Research and Intelligence Team
An example of how behind the scenes work has advanced over the past year for events is the force’s multi-award winning Geo-Spatial Research and Intelligence Team’s efforts to develop a unique product which maps the physical route the torch will take and overlays this with the latest intelligence information.
Thought to be the most comprehensive geo-spatial police mapping tool of its kind being used by the UK police service during the relay, the system will allow Intelligence staff based at the force’s Events Control Suite, to plot the Torch’s progress and flag relevant information on the geography of the route with the silver commander to help shape his or her policing strategy.
Head of the team which developed the system, Andy Brumwell, said: “The programme combines standard Ordnance Survey mapping products with details of the Torch route, route timings, places of interest and current intelligence to support the safe passage of the Torch, bearers and public.
“This ensures that officers protecting the route have a good knowledge of the general environment as well as more specific threats which may or may not be associated with those locations.”
Regional forces working together
In keeping with the regional approach to ensuring the safety of the Games, Relay and parallel cultural events, the tool encompasses the four forces which make up the wider West Midlands (WMP plus the Staffordshire, West Mercia and Warwickshire forces).
ACC Sharon Rowe is the West Midlands regional Olympic commander. She said: “From day one, the four forces decided they would work together on planning for the Olympics.
“The importance of regional collaboration was proven during the disorder last summer so we wanted to pull that learning together to make a more effective use of resources. Sharing resource capability has been really successful before the Games and will be so throughout the Olympic period.”[box_light]
PCSO bears the Torch for Sandwell
One person who knows the importance of keeping the Torch and spectators safe at all times is Nicki Yates.
In May, the award-winning PCSO from the West Bromwich neighbourhood policing team, carried the symbol of peace, unity and friendship through the streets of Droitwich.
The Olympic panel decided Nicki should carry the torch as a result of her excellent work and commitment within her role as a PCSO.
“To be given the opportunity to carry the torch for doing a job I love makes me feel very happy and proud,” said Nicki. “I have had that many photos taken I’m now feeling like a celebrity.”
More on this story in our Local Policing News section.[/box_light]
Force’s contribution to the Games in London
Policing the Torch Relay route is just one of the ways in which the force is playing a key role in this once in a generation experience.
Over the course of 101 days, 828 individual officers and staff from WMP will contribute to keeping the Games themselves safe and secure. And while the force’s commitment varies, a maximum of around 371 officers to as low as just two officers will be on duty each day.
While the majority of officers travelling to police the Games are general beat bobbies providing their usual professional service and working alongside the public, there is also a requirement for some specialist skilled officers to assist.
Officers sent to London at the Home Office’s expense range in rank from PC to inspector. Six members of police staff will also be deployed as part of the force’s contribution to the largest ever pre-planned operation.
WMP will be lending its renowned expertise from its intelligence department and dog unit along with officers trained in public order, specialist search teams, firearms officers and protection officers who will all assist with this complex operation.
The force has adopted a range of measures to maximise the number of officers available to assist with the Games, but also to continue policing across the West Mids. Annual leave has been restricted across the force, non-essential training has been postponed and the special constabulary will all play their role.
ACC Garry Forsyth, who is managing WMP’s Olympic commitment, said: “Core policing across the county will not suffer and disruption will be minimised. We will also have the resilience and capacity to deal with unexpected major incidents outside of the policing the Games.
“British policing is among the best in the world and West Midlands Police has substantial experience in policing major global events. Our top priority is to keep our communities safe and protect them from harm.”
Up to the minute travel information
Helping communities stay one step ahead is the force’s Corporate Communications Department which is using local social media accounts to signpost members of the public to council websites for up to the minute information on the relay.
Those messages should also be heeded by officers and staff who are being urged to plan ahead for road closures which may impact on their journey to and from work.
The advice for all is before your set off, plan ahead, leave additional time for any delays and listen to local radio for live updates.
(By Billy Corrigan, communications manager)[box_dark]
Find out more
For more information on the Games, visit the Olympics intranet site.
(Please note that WMP’s intranet site is only accessible to serving police officers and staff from force computers).[/box_dark]