Armed US police could be on London streets
Brendan Carlin and John Steele
Armed foreign police could patrol the streets of London during the 2012 Olympics under an unprecedented scenario outlined by one of Scotland Yard’s most senior officers.
Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, the man in charge of security preparations for the Games and Britain’s most senior Muslim police officer, also raised the prospect of British troops being drafted in to help with the huge security challenges.
Security experts are privately debating how to protect the Olympics from terror attacks from Islamic extremist “jihadi” terrorists in London, especially in the wake of the 7/7 terrorist atrocities in London in which four British-born jihadi suicide bombers killed 52 people.
Mr Ghaffur’s comments come amid predictions from the Conservatives that the security bill for the giant 2012 event could be as much as £1bn.
But last night, the possibility of using both armed foreign police and British forces appeared to catch the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by surprise last night. A DCMS spokesman declined to comment.
But the Tories reacted with fury to any suggestion of using UK troops or police officers from another country.
Hugh Robertson, the party’s Olympics spokesman, told The Daily Telegraph: “In my view, this is a job for the British police and solely for the British police.”
Mr Robertson, who served with the Life Guards in Northern Ireland, the Gulf and Bosnia, also ridiculed the idea that after Labour’s “infantry cutbacks”, there were any spare British troops in any case.
Tessa Jowell, the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, has already admitted that in the light of the 7/7 terrorist attacks, the £190 million budget for Olympics security was “inadequate”.
Mr Robertson said yesterday: “Every security expert I have spoken to has said that the final bill will be closer to £1 billion.”
At the weekend, government sources indicated that the final security bill and by implication, the full security arrangements, would probably not be known for years.
But in an interview today with the Parliamentary Monitor, Mr Ghaffur raised the precedent of British police officers serving in Germany during the 2006 World Cup as one way of coping with the huge security challenge.
The Scotland Yard officer, who has a reputation for speaking his mind, said: “We may have to change some constitutional positions, like, do we bring in some foreign police officers to work here like they did in Germany.
“Do we have armed officers accepted from other countries?”
Mr Ghaffur added: “In Germany, use of foreign officers to actually control and provide tactical or cultural advice to local police was very successful.
“I don’t think we should shy away from that. In a global environment, a capital city, international policing is a global family.”
He stressed that there need to be a “public discussion” about using armed police from abroad, before suggesting that Britain’s own Armed Forces might also have a role to play.
“To ensure we manage all contingencies, frankly, then the role, the support that the military and others can give us have to be considered as part of the planning,” he said.
Mr Ghaffur indicated, though, that the military’s contribution would be in the background – not visibly on the streets.
“What I am reasonably sure of is that I am not looking for the military visibly at the moment. I am not looking for them visibly complementing our effort – it may be slightly different in China,” he added, in a reference to the 2008 Beijing Games.
But he stressed the need for public approval, saying: “The starting point is always we police with the consent and co-operation of the community.”
Last night, Scotland Yard insisted that Mr Ghaffur was merely raising the issue of foreign policing for debate. The issues, particularly using armed officers, were “very much up in the air” and ultimately a political decision, a spokesman said.
The use of unarmed English officers in Germany for the World Cup, to re-assure law-abiding fans and spot trouble-makers, was regarded as a success.
However, police sources predicted that allowing gun-carrying officers into London from nations where all officers are armed could raise significant legal issues.
The use of firearms in the UK is ruled by the legal principle of “reasonable force.” Any outside officers would have to apply by British law.
The Olympic Delivery Authority will today formally submit planning applications for the giant Olympic Park at Stratford, east London.
PRISON PLANET.com Copyright © 2002-2007 Alex Jones All rights reserved.