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Welfare and mutual aid issues marred Royal Wedding operation


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'Welfare should never be an afterthought'.

Welfare and mutual aid issues marred Royal Wedding operation

Mutual aid requests for help with stop and search operations were made just days before the Royal Wedding, it has been claimed.

Police Federation of England and Wales roads policing lead Jayne Willetts said at least two forces - West Midlands and West Mercia - were still receiving mutual aid requests in the days leading up to the big event with some officers being asked to travel to Windsor by the evening.

The day was also blighted by welfare issues with some officers on fixed posts struggling to access refreshments in the unseasonably warm weather.

She said: “I was in the office on the Monday when the call came in.

“A Royal Wedding is not an emergency, everyone has known about this well in advance. This is an organisational issue and it was the last thing we needed. We are already struggling with shortages and fatigue.

“It’s nice that everyone’s said well done, what a great event but behind the scenes it was a different story.”

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter said for his force mutual aid had been requested well in advance but said he shared Ms Willett’s concerns about welfare.

“I was on the ground that day in uniform with officers and I can tell you everything was not fine and dandy. The reason it was a success was because of the flexibility and quick thinking of officers on the day, not because of the force’s organisation. It was an operational success despite the issues.

“I’ve had a number of complaints from officers - it’s the basics of welfare provision. There was food and water but it didn’t necessarily get to the officers.”

He said some of the operational issues are sensitive but recalled some officers being told they were not expected when they turned up for their shift while vehicles were sent to the wrong location.  

“I think the debrief has got to be meaningful,” he added.

Last month Thames Valley Police Federation chairman Craig O’Leary told Police Oracle he was  “absolutely confident” the force would be able handle the royal wedding - despite concerns over resources.

Mr O’Leary was not available for comment at the time of publication but on May 20 he posted a tweet saying he was “troubled by the many messages in my inbox about the poor welfare provision for officers TVP officers working the Royal Wedding. Welfare should never be an afterthought or nice to have.”

The next the day he posted a toned-down tweet saying: “Just to reassure and qualify my comment earlier regarding service provision. I and all those present at the wedding appreciate the hard work and dedication of those involved in the planning of a big occasion. We will work with the force to rectify our concerns moving forwards.”  

A spokesman for TVP said not a single complaint has been received about welfare provision on the day “and the overwhelming feedback from the public would suggest the police officers also found it a positive experience.”

He confirmed TVP had help from 25 forces and said the vast majority of mutual aid requests were made three and a half weeks before the event, the remainder with ten days’ notice due to a “complicated and changing environment.”

But he insisted “any late changes were not in response to an emergency but a small number of necessary amendments.”

They added: “This operation was of an unprecedented scale the likes of which we or other forces are unlikely to have experienced or experience again.

“As such, and with so many resources moving through the operation of the week, there will always be last minute amendments and resource changes; sometimes due to sickness or late notice alterations.  Every plan, no-matter how thorough, evolves once implemented. The operation met all of the overarching objectives.

“Our logistics team worked incredibly hard to ensure the welfare of all officers was catered for. 

“We worked closely with the federation and Unison to make sure police officer, PCSO, police staff and volunteer welfare was a priority.  For example, we purchased 2,500 black bags which contained personal issue re-usable 750mm water bottles and snacks to assist with the deployments.”

View On Police Oracle

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