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Looking back on this year, my first thought is how proud of am. We have a team of people working on delivering a safe and secure Birmingham 2022 who are extremely committed and passionate about the work they do and that shows in the work that’s been carried out this year and excellent plans we have in place.
As you would expect, as the police team planning for Birmingham 2022, we’ve had an incredibly busy year. We’ve had teams embedded in each of the Commonwealth venues – that includes a full team working at the Alexander Stadium and the Sandwell Aquatics Centre – onsite every day, meticulously searching as the site is built – literally checking every hole before it’s filled and working with partners to ensure the sites are as secure as possible.
We’ve also ran a number of national ‘exercises’ which tested our response in the event of a major incident. This included events with government and national counter terrorism, running ‘scenarios’ and making sure that we have the most efficient and effective responses. The benefits of these exercises for WMP will be felt for a long time after the Games and will benefit the region as a whole.
Our Queen’s Baton Relay protection officer recruitment process has been running across WMP and our neighbouring forces – West Mercia, Warwickshire and Staffordshire in recent months. Pulling together a team of protection officers who will run with the Queen’s Baton when it returns to the UK in June next year up until it enters the Opening Ceremony at the Alexander Stadium on 28 July. A team of WMP officers ran with the baton when the Queen sent it off in it’s journey around the Commonwealth from Buckingham Palace back in October which was a very proud moment for the force.
On top of the small job of planning a detailed security operation across 14 different venues and four different force areas, we have also been working hard on practical side of things, how we are going to accommodate, feed and transport 3000 + officers around the force area in July next year. This is a massive operation in itself and one my team have really risen to. It means we go into the new year just needing to fine tune our plans, making sure we have give the best support in place for both our officers and the thousands of officers that are coming to the West Midlands to help deliver a fantastic Birmingham 2022.
We’ve also spent a lot of time working with our local communities, particularly those who have Game venues near to them. Whether it’s setting up youth forums to make sure we capture the voice of young people in the areas, or working with local schools on projects and showing them police tactics like how we’re using the drones. We’ve also done some fantastic work with local university, with Uni of Bham students having a real input on our plans for next year and our colleagues working on the security operation giving inputs to the policing course at Bham City Uni. We really want to use the Games to build relationships that will last long after the Games are over.
All in all, we’re in a good place as we cross the start line into 2022. I for one can’t wait to see WMP and our fantastic partners come together and help deliver a fantastic Birmingham 2022 that we will all remember for a long time to come.
Chief Supt. Dave Sturman