The Daily Telegraph
Stage set for biggest police operation in British history
Thousands of officers from forces around the country to support Metropolitan Police in ensuring the safety of the public, Royal family and world leaders
THE state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will involve the largest policing operation ever staged in the UK, the Metropolitan Police has said.
Officers from almost every force in the country will be in London on Monday to help ensure the safety of the public, the Royal family and visiting heads of state, who will include US President Joe Biden and G7 leaders.
It will be the biggest VIP protection operation ever undertaken in Britain.
To give an idea of the scale of the operation, Stuart Cundy, deputy assistant commissioner of the Met, said 22 miles of barriers had been installed in the capital, all of which will be policed by officers at regular intervals.
Among the specialist officers on duty will be divers, dog handlers, mounted police, motorcycle outriders, firearms officers and close protection officers, who will guard visiting VIPS as well as the Royal family, the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers.
Helicopters will patrol the skies and Mr Cundy did not rule out the use of drones and other technology to help police the hundreds of thousands of people expected to line the streets.
In Windsor, airport-style security will be used to check bags and scan for weapons as members of the public make their way to the Long Walk, where the coffin procession will pass on its way to Windsor Castle.
Mr Cundy said a total of 34 arrests had been made in relation to the funeral, but none of them was related to protests.
He said: “This will be the largest single policing event that the Met Police has ever undertaken. As a single event, this is larger than the 2012 Olympics. It is larger than the Platinum Jubilee weekend and the range of officers, police staff and those supporting operations is truly immense.”
During the 2012 Olympics, 15,000 police officers were on duty in London at peak times.
There will be 2,000 officers from other police forces on duty alongside Met colleagues at the busiest times.
Sir Mark Rowley, commissioner of the Met, described the policing operation for the funeral as “enormous”, adding that his officers and those from other forces were proud to be involved.
He said: “The sense in all the officers I speak to – whether they’re Met officers or from around the country – is that everyone feels immensely privileged to be able to take this opportunity to play a small part in supporting the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, and they’re really relishing that opportunity.
“The number of officers deployed is heading to a point where it will be well beyond the total size of a force like West Midlands or Greater Manchester – it will be heading into the high numbers of thousands of officers deployed.”
The West Midlands and Greater Manchester forces each have just over 7,000 officers.
Sir Mark said his officers were all “dedicated to supporting this event and ensuring that it is safe, and trying to do it in as unobtrusive way as possible because this is obviously a solemn occasion and we want to present that opportunity for everyone to reflect and mourn as is proper on Monday”.
Mr Cundy said: “It’s not just that visible presence which makes this the largest policing operation that we’ve ever deployed. This will be the largest global protection operation that the Met Police has ever undertaken… we will have hundreds of world leaders, UK leaders and VIPS here in London.
“It is a hugely complex operation led by some amazing people both as leaders and those that provide the protection, not just here in London, but in other locations as well.”
Mr Cundy said his officers “understand that people have the right to protest” and would make sure that the policing of any protests relating to the Royal family was “proportionate and balanced” and that officers “will only be taking action where it is absolutely necessary”.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim De Meyer, of Thames Valley Police, who will be in charge of the policing operation in Windsor, said that anyone planning a peaceful protest should notify the authorities because the more they did so, “the easier we will be able to facilitate that right”.
Earlier in the day, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said it would be “disrespectful” for people to stage protests on the day of the funeral.
Mr Cundy also warned the public not to fly drones in central London, where a no-fly zone will be in force, saying that 11 people had been spoken to so far about the use of drones, “primarily members of the public who are not aware and are not considering what they should be doing”.
Further details about the precise number of officers on duty on Monday will be given nearer the time.
The officers said that “first and foremost” the policing operation was about keeping people safe, and crowds would be constantly monitored both on the ground and via CCTV and aerial footage to make sure there is no risk of overcrowding or crushes.
Mr Cundy did not say whether any plots to disrupt the ceremonial events had been foiled by police so far.
But when asked about media reports of a man found swimming in the Thames with a Gopro camera, he said the individual had been spoken to by officers, dismissing it as “nothing more than a man that was going for a charity swim”.
His comments came after reports that officers had foiled a suspected plot by an environmental activist after he was caught paddling on a float near the Houses of Parliament.
The Met said police became aware of a man in the river at around 3.25am on Monday who “appeared to be using a flotation device” and came out of the water at Victoria Tower Gardens.
He was not arrested but was “given words of advice about his proximity to a restricted area”, a force spokesman said.