Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pope's visit sparks major secuirty operation by Police, six month planning produces Police as 'routeliners' and Armed Police lurking in side streets

Dear All

Tomorrow sees the State visit of Pope Benedict XVI like most State visits it should pass without incident.

Despite the threat level being low as described by Strathclyde Police, this hasn’t stopped the Police indulging in a security operation unprecedented in Scotland.

In other words complete overkill.

1500 officers will be deployed in both Glasgow and Edinburgh as the Pope meets the Queen and takes a three-and-a-half mile journey round Edinburgh in the Popemobile.

And then off to Glasgow for an open-air Mass for about 75,000 people in Bellahouston Park.

So, despite the low risk in Edinburgh, between 600 and 700 police officers will be on duty acting as “route liners”.

From a security point of view, they are effectively reduced to be little more than stewards.

Part of the plan for the visit is a private lunch with Cardinal Keith O’Brien at his home in Morningside.

One can only wonder which bright spark thought this was clever, unsecured location with perimeter problems and unrestricted public turnout.

Add to that flagging this unsecured location up in advance.

Sorry but you can’t just take some people seriously.

Iain Livingstone, Assistant Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police says:

“It’s not just Princes Street, it’s the whole route. The airports are also vulnerable and contingencies are in place for anyone seeking to get on the plane, the runway, or make an environmental protest.”

He seems more worried by nuisance protests of those seeking publicity for their particular cause.

Strathclyde Police, Lothian and Borders Police and British Transport Police (BTP) have been preparing for the visit for about six months.

And the best they can do is route liners and Armed Police on rooftops and off the main route in side streets.

That is six months work?

Unfortunately, there will be cranks out, Protesters against the Pope’s visit will be out in forced but restricted to certain areas in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland will be carrying out a “silent witness” protest in Edinburgh; these people are an embarrassment to Scotland.

And the Rev Ian Paisley also due to demonstrate in the capital!

Someone should have put him on the Queen’s guest list to meet the Pope.

Hopefully tomorrow those who have travelled to this event will have a good day and the Sun will be shining at Bellahouston Park.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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