Decades of planning helped ensure safety at Queen’s funeral, expert says | UK News
The success of the huge security operation surrounding the Queen’s funeral follows decades of complex planning and heightened public vigilance, a counter-terrorism expert has said.
Royalty, world leaders and hundreds of thousands of members of the public were shielded on Monday amid heightened concerns about possible attacks.
The scale exceeded the Platinum Jubilee weekend and London 2012 Olympics operation, which saw up to 10,000 police on duty a day.
Nick Aldworth, the former national counter-terrorism police co-ordinator, said plans for the Queen’s funeral had been discussed in detail for decades.
“The success behind the scale of this venture is down to years of planning,” he told the Guardian.
The British public’s heightened awareness of possible terrorist acts and their willingness to report suspicions also made central London an ideal location for a large-scale event, he said.
“London, because of what it has been through and years of vigilance, is in many ways an ideal place because the public is aware of the possible dangers,” he said.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Deputy Commissioner Stuart Cundy said Sunday that “nothing compares” to the “extremely complex” task. The funeral was the “final and most complex phase” of the police operation that took place after the monarch’s death, he said.
It comes as the country’s terror threat level is ‘substantial’, meaning an attack is ‘likely’.
Police and security services had expressed concern about the possibility of stabbings, bomb blasts and any other possible terrorist threats or incidents.
The security services were also involved in funeral planning, identifying any potential threats, while the Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure was tasked with providing expert advice to the director of MI5 and the whole of government.
More than 3,000 other officers from almost every force in the country have been mobilized to help the London police.
Armed police, escort bikers, mounted patrol officers, dog teams and the marine unit were among the specialist teams involved.
Rooftop snipers were in place as the motorcade moved, accompanied by a helicopter escort anywhere outside the capital.
So-called lone terrorism, especially stabbings, is now seen as the main threat. However, the police guarding the new king and senior royals must also consider the risks posed by people who are obsessed with those in the public eye.
Members of the public have been asked to report any suspicious behavior, with security experts describing potential terrorists among the crowd as people who appear “obviously out of place” and disinterested in the ceremonies.
As of Friday morning, more than 30 arrests, for various offenses, had been made as part of the operation, Cundy said.
A man has since been charged with disturbing the public order and is due to appear in court after an alleged disturbance of the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall. Another man has appeared in court facing allegations he sexually assaulted two women who were queuing to witness the Queen lie.
More than 35km of barriers in central London alone have been erected to control crowds and secure key areas.
Around 2,300 police officers oversaw the Queen’s final trip from Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle. Around 1,000 people lined the route, alongside military personnel, from the Abbey to Wellington Arch as the Queen’s coffin was carried from the service by a gun carriage.