London celebrations

London police say Queen’s funeral is biggest safety test ever

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  • Police from almost all of Britain will be deployed
  • Divers, dog handlers, mounted officers on duty
  • Police made 34 arrests ahead of funeral

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) – London police say Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral will be the biggest security operation ever as prime ministers, presidents and senior royals gather on Monday to pay homage to Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

The Queen’s funeral is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the streets of London, echoing other significant events in British history including her coronation in 1953, the funeral of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1965 and the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

Stuart Cundy, deputy deputy commissioner for the Metropolitan Police in London, said the force was preparing for events ranging from terror threats to protests and crowd crushes.

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He said his force would deploy the largest number of officers ever seen on the streets of the city and the biggest protective operation for world leaders and the royal family in the police’s nearly 200-year history, with officers from nearly every force in the country deployed.

Specialist officers on duty will include divers, dog handlers, mounted police, bikers, firearms officers and close protection officers, who will guard leaders and royals around the world .

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron are among the most high-profile foreign guests who have confirmed their attendance.

Cundy said the massive police operation would surpass other major police events in London, including the 2012 Olympics and celebrations in June for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which marked 70 years on the British throne .

To give an idea of ​​the scale of the operation, Cundy said 36km of barriers had been deployed across central London to help control crowds.

“There is absolutely nothing that compares to our police operation this week, and in particular Monday for the state funeral,” Cundy told Reuters. ‘This will be the biggest policing operation ever undertaken by Met Police and I believe they are likely to undertake.’

PROTESTS

The police operation will be overseen by Mark Rowley, who is in his first week as head of London police after joining the force after serving as the national counter-terrorism officer.

London police have so far made 34 arrests ahead of the funeral, but none of them were linked to the protests. There were criticisms that in Scotland the police had been too rough in dealing with those who objected.

“People have the right to protest,” Cundy said. “Our response will be proportionate, it will be balanced and our officers will only act where absolutely necessary.”

Tim De Meyer, deputy chief constable of Thames Valley Police, who will be in charge of policing in Windsor where the Queen will be taken from London for burial, said the public would face airport-style screening .

“Our contingency planning takes into account a whole range of different scenarios, from terrorist attacks and criminal activity to crowd surges and crushing,” Cundy said.

Two police officers were stabbed in central London on Friday in an incident unrelated to the funeral or terrorism, which he said had “highlighted the need for all serving officers, members of the public, to maintain this vigilance. “.

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Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Kate Holton; Alison Williams and Frank Jack Daniel

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