Thousands of UK police ‘diverted from vital tasks’ for Trump visit
Operation Manifold will see as many as 10,000 officers on duty during the president’s three-day working trip, which is expected to start on Friday 13th following his appearance at a NATO summit in Brussels the previous day.
The security preparations include the deployment of elite armed officers and counter terrorism ‘Robocops’ who train with the SAS, who will be on hand alongside thousands of regular officers being pulled from other parts of the UK.
When on the move, President Trump’s motorcade will be protected by 40 police cars and motorbike outriders with roads blocked along the route the president is taking. Police chiefs across the country have been told to cancel leave and rest days and to prepare officers for deployment hundreds of miles from home.
The massive amount of resources dedicated to the operation has seen criticism from both political and policing circles.
Labour's Shadow Police Minister Louise Haigh said: “Police officers across the country are having their rest days and leave cancelled on a weekly basis to keep people safe. The very last thing they need right now is to be diverted from vital tasks to police the red carpet being rolled out for President Trump.”
Simon Kempton of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file members said: “Thousands of police officers will be leaving their forces to work in long and arduous conditions, and their colleagues will have to maintain a service to the public. This comes at a human cost to those officers.”
While details on Trump’s full itinerary remain scarce, his wife Melania is expected to join him after a period of shying away from the media limelight. While in the UK, the Trumps are expected to meet Queen Elizabeth and dine at Blenheim Palace.
Meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May are also scheduled to take place either at Downing Street, or a more intimate meeting at her country residence in Chequers, to ensure the upkeep of the “special relationship” between the two leaders.
A meeting hosted at Chequers would also keep both leaders away from noisy protests scheduled to take place the weekend of Trump’s visit. A Stop Trump protest organized by Guardian journalist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter Owen Jones for the Friday of Trump’s expected arrival has so far attracted interest from 53,000 people on Facebook.
A protest the following day will see UK supporters of the US president turn up to Downing Street where they could clash with counter-demonstrators. In preparation for any potential trouble that may arise from those turning out to protest Trump or those who support him, 200 Police Support Units – comprising an inspector, three sergeants and around 20 public order-trained PCs in three riot vans – will be on the streets and ready for action throughout the trip.
Scotland Yard has said it is “preparing for a multi-faceted policing and security operation, involving the protection and movement of the president.
“The requirements of this complex operation need to be balanced with the right of individuals to a freedom of speech.”
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