Thousands of police arriving in Devon and Cornwall for G7 summit

·5-min read

Thousands of police officers drafted in from across the country have begun arriving in Devon and Cornwall ahead of the G7 summit.

Five thousand mutual aid officers, from forces across the UK, will assist during the event at Carbis Bay Hotel between June 11 and 13.

A briefing centre made up of large marquees has been set up in Devon for all officers to pass through ahead of their deployment.

The officers, mainly arriving in police vans and on coaches, must produce a negative lateral flow test for Covid-19 before entering the centre.

All officers will be taken through the briefing centre (Ben Birchall/PA)
All officers will be taken through the briefing centre (Ben Birchall/PA)

They are then provided with kit such as body-worn cameras before receiving a hot meal – one of three provided for officers each day – and a takeaway cream tea.

A 40-minute video briefing from Devon and Cornwall Police officers features topics including the force’s “neighbourhood style” of policing, as well as how to respond to a chemical or terror attack.

Officers pass through welfare tents before being handed a bag containing a reusable spork, mug and water bottle and heading to accommodation in the area.

Superintendent Joanne Hall, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said there would be “really high standards of welfare” for the 6,500 officers and staff on duty during the summit.

“They’re fed well so when they go out on their deployment, they do a really good job for us in our communities,” she said.

“They’ll get a taste of Devon and Cornwall before they leave with a cream tea. That is leading to the inevitable arguments of the Devon way or the Cornwall way.”

Scones
All officers will get a cream tea (Ben Birchall/PA)

A Devon cream tea features cream on the scone, with jam on top. The Cornish version has jam on first and then cream.

Ms Hall said the Covid-19 pandemic and the numbers of officers involved had led to the tented briefing area.

“We’ve got significant numbers of officers helping us police this big event so we need a really big venue or marquee to allow us to host them, but no-one has ever done this in Covid,” she said.

“We need to make sure that everything we do is Covid-secure so this has been specifically designed to allow us to get those big numbers through and keep everyone safe.”

She said part of the briefing provided to officers included being “proportionate at all times”.

Those deployed on the frontline during the summit include firearms and dog officers, as well as some who will be policing cordons on 12-hour shifts.

“In Devon and Cornwall, we are used to working in a massive geographical area but a lot of forces won’t be used to the distances that we travel across,” Ms Hall said.

“We make it clear that this is a very, very big area and our numbers swell every year from 1.8 million to 11 million in the summer.”

Police have already warned residents of Carbis Bay and the St Ives area to expect travel delays, road closures and diversions due to the summit.

Residents will need to show two forms of identification before being allowed to pass through checkpoints.

Ms Hall said the restrictions were to ensure residents and delegates could “safely” go in and out of the Carbis Bay area but day visitors would not be allowed.

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Chief Inspector Russell Dawe, lead planner for the summit at Devon and Cornwall Police, described it as “the largest event of 2021 within England”.

The event has required “significant” planning since January, including the opening of gold and silver command centres in the area.

“Our intention is to police this in the Devon and Cornwall style of policing, so very community-focused,” Mr Dawe said.

“There will be disruption and we’ve been very open with the public throughout the build-up to this event.

“We’ve got world leaders that are coming into a beautiful area of the South West, there is going to be disruption but I would ask that the communities just bear with us.

“The diversions are in place to keep the traffic flowing as best we can.”

Almost 40 protest groups have made contact with police ahead of the summit. Designated sites have been set up away from Carbis Bay but it is expected that some may go to the area.

Mr Dawe said police would facilitate peaceful protest, with “recognised locations” in suitable places.

He acknowledged that protesters would want to get the attention of world leaders at the summit.

“Protesters will want to get their voice and their message heard, which is right, but that needs to be done in a peaceful and lawful manner,” he said.

Extra staff will be working in the control room (Ben Birchall/PA)
Extra staff will be working in the control rooms (Ben Birchall/PA)

Extra staff are working in the force’s two control rooms and a temporary unit has been set up to deal with G7 calls.

Superintendent Jane Alford-Mole said there was “already demand” due to Covid-19 restrictions lifting and the holiday period.

She asked for people to only call 999 in emergency situations and to use 101 and the force’s website, email and chat service if not.

“We’ve got a temporary control room that is set up for G7 and we’re staffing that 24/7 through the whole of the G7,” she said.

The force is “confident” it will be able to deal with calls regarding G7, as well as other incidents in Devon and Cornwall, during the period, she added.