‘No gripes or groans’ from police facing 12-hour shifts and cancelled leave

·4-min read

Officers facing 12-hour shifts and cancelled leave as part of the mammoth policing operation following the Queen’s death want to work and show their respect to the late monarch, the head of a staff association has said.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said officers in the force “to a man and woman” had affection for the Queen and there had been no “gripes or groans” about the efforts expected from them.

The biggest-ever policing operation undertaken by the Met is being staged as millions of visitors including foreign dignitaries converge in London in the wake of the Queen’s death and the lead-up to her funeral.

Former chairman of the police federation of England and Wales John Apter and chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation Ken Marsh speaking to journalists outside Downing Street.
Ken Marsh (right) said officers in the force had affection for the Queen and wanted to show their respect for the late monarch (Victoria Jones/PA)

Mr Marsh said: “It will be challenging, but the plan is very good, it’s been in place for a long time.

“It’s what we do, none of the officers are concerned about what’s in front of us or are daunted by it because it’s all laid down, it’s all planned, it’s all prepared.

“I don’t think any officer is concerned by it and they’re all prepared to do it because our sovereign is gone, who we actually swore allegiance to and serve as we do our new King, so they all want to do it.

“We haven’t had any gripes or groans about what’s asked of them or what’s required of them because they all, to a man and woman, had affection for our Queen and want to be part of it, and want to show their respect in any way they can.”

The Metropolitan Police Federation is a staff association that represents more than 30,000 officers up to the rank of chief inspector.

Experts have said that around 10,000 officers, who swear an oath to the reigning monarch when they join the service, will be on duty per day in the English capital alone in the run-up to the Queen’s funeral.

A side view of a crowd of people outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Millions of people are expected to visit London to pay their respects to the late Queen (James Manning/PA)

They will need to deal with huge crowds of members of the public coming to pay their respects as well as dozens of dignitaries visiting the UK, and potential protests those visits may spark.

Former Met Police chief superintendent Parm Sandhu told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme that London could be “full” and that crowds and the funeral itself would be targets for terrorists.

The level of demand on police has already meant Arsenal’s Europa League match against PSV Eindhoven that was due to take place on Thursday has had to be postponed.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said it is working with other emergency services and organisations “to make sure that as many planned events as possible can go ahead safely whilst balancing it against the need to ensure that the policing requirements for national events and daily policing are met”.

British Transport Police said the public will see “a marked increase” in the number of uniformed officers on patrol at transport hubs in London.

Mr Marsh said: “There’s a massive requirement for firearms, more than for routine officers, because of the amount of dignitaries that are coming.

“All the dignitaries, all the major players, they come with their own teams most of them, but there are specific things in place for all of them.

“Obviously, you’ve only got a finite amount of motorbikes with guns etc, so some of those will be coming into assist.

“There’s all sorts of requirements that we’ll have to get right as we go along.”

Members of the public view floral tributes in Green Park, near Buckingham Palace.
Members of the public view floral tributes in Green Park, near Buckingham Palace. (Joe Giddens/PA)

In terms of crowds, some teams of officers will be held in reserve so the force can respond if larger numbers of people than expected come to the capital.

“There’s a four-day resting so that’s quite a long period, around 100 hours,” Mr Marsh said.

“We have no idea of the numbers who will turn up.

“That makes it difficult for us in terms of the policing planning because if you put a plan in place for half a million then two million turn up, then clearly you haven’t got enough officers to keep it safe.

“So, we’re having to make sure that we’ve got the most required if necessary.”