Police preparing for the mass protests expected to disrupt the G7 Summit in Cornwall next month were today practicing the removal of protestors who have glued themselves to plastic or steel and need to be cut free.
Officers from Devon and Cornwall police are expecting up to 30 activist groups to attend, with two sites set up for ‘official’ protest in Truro and Falmouth, as world leaders meet to discuss how to reduce carbon emissions for the three-day event beginning June 11.
The force is expecting protests, demonstrations and marches to to spill over from the designated sites, as many protestors will be looking to cause delays and disruption at the venue in Carbis Bay by chaining and sometimes glueing themselves to immovable objects.
Nathan Johnson, an inspector with Devon and Cornwall police, told The Guardian that the force was not expecting disorder and that protestors would have their right to protest ‘facilitated’.
However he added that they had seen ‘more and more non-violent direct action’ such as protestors locking themselves to onto buildings and fences to make a statement.
Johnson told The Guardian that the police would balance the protestors rights with the right of the community to go about their everyday business without disruption.
He said: ‘We’re just saying that by locking yourself on to a road and blocking it for six hours, the balance is wrong. You can go to a protest site or protest pretty much everywhere in Devon and Cornwall, but you can’t block the M5.’
The police force’s tactics are likely to face scrutiny following the recent criticism Avon Police attracted during the ‘Kill The Bill’ riots in Bristol.
Protester removal team members of the Devon & Cornwall Police with typical examples of modern demonstrator equipment during the training day set-up by the police to showcase protester removal techniques. The special teams will focus their operations on maintaining a balance between respecting peoples’ right to protest and the need to maintain order so that the residents and businesses in the county can continue to carry on with their lives with as little disturbance as possible
Today officers at Devon and Cornwall police force’s Exeter headquarters trialled techniques to remove some of the protestors makeshift ‘lock-on’ devices, commonly made from bike locks and bits of pipe, plastic and steel. Pictured: Adrian Waldron of the protester removal team of the Devon & Cornwall Police with a typical example of modern demonstrator equipment during the training day set-up by the police to showcase protester removal techniques they may be called upon to use at the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June
Police staff members Bea Stapleford (centre left) and Yas Mattocks (centre right) demonstrate the use of a lock on device to showcase protest and public order police activities for the upcoming in person G7 Summit at the Police headquarters in Exeter, southwest England
Today officers at the force’s Exeter headquarters practised techniques to remove some of the protestors makeshift ‘lock-on’ devices, commonly made from bike locks and bits of pipe, plastic and steel.
Inspector Johnson told The Guardian that he believes that world leaders could be targeted by protestors as they enter into the West of Cornwall with their convoys on the ‘vulnerable’ A30 – which is often gridlocked with tourist traffic.
Devon and Cornwall police have drafted in reinforcements to bolster officer numbers, 6,500 police will be on patrol with 100 police dogs in Cornwall when the world leaders gather.
Around 5,000 police on duty will be on what is called ‘mutual aid’, meaning officers from other forces will be drafted in to work under the command of the Devon and Cornwall force for the summit at Carbis Bay, near St Ives.
Senior officers say the G7 will be the biggest policing and security event in England this year.
A website has launched, for how the G7 will be policed, and another Facebook live event has been held with updates from officials.
Superintendent Jo Hall, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said ‘We will be policing air, sea and land, it’s quite a complex environment.
Members of Devon and Cornwall Police Protestor Removal Team and Police Liaison Officers respond to a ‘lock-on’ training scenario at the force headquarters in Exeter, where they are preparing for the forthcoming G7 Summit in Cornwall. The ‘lock-on’ tube, often made of plastic, steel and concrete, are used by protestors to lock arms together while causing obstructions or blocking roads and have to be carefully cut free by police after appealing to the protesters to relent their protest
Demonstration of a protester removal exercise with a saw by team members of the Devon & Cornwall Police. The ‘protestor’ is given safety glasses before being prized free
Police officers demonstrate how to extract a person’s arm from a lock on device during the showcase on protest and public order police activities
The regions’ public health officials say they are used to dealing with large numbers of visitors in Cornwall and their main priority is to protect the health and safety of residents. Pictured: Demonstration of a protester removal exercise
‘Protestors’ are seen in one ‘lock-on’ scenario which officers tackled during the police showcase today
‘You are likely to see high numbers of officers and staff, you are also likely to see fencing around the main areas, but that is nothing to be alarmed by, this is to ensure we can keep the event safe and secure, and keep communities safe.
‘Part of that planning is to deliver 16,000 meals a day. We have secured over 100 accommodation sites in Cornwall, we have secured extra kennelling for our dogs that are coming down to support us.
‘It is a really big logistical challenge, but we have planned for events like this before, we’re used to planning big events and our plans are agile and scale-able.’
The regions’ public health officials say they are used to dealing with large numbers of visitors in Cornwall and their main priority is to protect the health and safety of residents.
Police say anyone who doesn’t need to be in the locations of key events should think about avoiding those areas.
Superintendent Hall said ‘Summer is always busy for Cornwall. and you can expect restrictions around the key areas and in the run-up to and over the event, that’s only natural with an event of this size.
‘So if you don’t need to be around those areas over the event, then you may want to think about coming another time or visiting one of the other beautiful beaches in Cornwall.’
It has also been announced that no trains will be running on the St Ives branch line from the 7th to 14th June, with replacement buses running instead.
Protester removal team members of the Devon & Cornwall Police with typical examples of modern demonstrator equipment
Adrian Waldron of the protester removal team of the Devon & Cornwall Police with several lock-on devices that could be used
A close up of a typical example of modern demonstrator equipment during the training day set-up by the Devon & Cornwall Police. The pipe is studded with bolts and wire
Inspector Nathan Johnson of the Devon & Cornwall Police Special Operations team during the training day
Members of Devon and Cornwall Police Protestor Removal Team handle a ‘lock-on’ device at the force headquarters in Exeter
Protester removal team members of the Devon & Cornwall Police with typical examples of modern demonstrator equipment
Police have already been slammed for hiring a luxury cruise liner for off-duty officers guarding the G7 climate change summit in Cornwall, as well as 200 hotels.
While world leaders discuss how to cut carbon emissions, around 1,000 officers from police forces across Britain will spend their off-duty time on the MS Silja Europa moored in Falmouth harbour.
Devon and Cornwall Police said the cruise liner has been hired for 10 days and used by officers for accommodation, catering and ‘other essential facilities’.
Whoever gets one of the executive suites will even have their own sauna.
Disgruntled local resident Freda Harris said on social media ‘Devon and Cornwall Constabulary chartering MS Silja Europa for what will be little more than an ego trip for BoJo where Devon and Cornwall council tax payers will ultimately foot the bill.’
Police dog Tag in action during the Devon and Cornwall Police skills during a demonstration day on May 18, 2021 in Exeter, England, as the Devon and Cornwall police preparing their teams for a wide variety of potential incidents from demonstrator control to the possibility of sea-based events as the G7 Summit takes place on the Cornish coast in mid June
Police dog Rudi in action during the Devon and Cornwall Police skills demonstration day on May 18, 2021 in Exeter, England
It will be the largest policing event to have ever taken place in Cornwall and officers and specialist teams will be drafted in from various UK police regions
ItsMagicGirl said: ‘As long as you don’t give care about the environmental impact or financial cost, sending a luxury cruise ship from the Baltic is a rational, efficient and safe way to house 4,000 Police at Carbis Bay. Nothing to see here!’
Padraig said: ‘So, whilst the ‘main event’ will be in Carbis Bay the ship will be moored in Falmouth, presumably because of the deeper water and amenities.
‘So apart from the trips to Falmouth by the dignitaries, 6,500 police officers will traipse the 45km to Carbis in an endless convoy of police vehicles?’
The Silja Europa, which is used for Baltic cruises, has seven restaurants and coffee shops, a nightclub, live music venue and full spa and beauty salon.
But police insist most facilities will be closed, with only the restaurants available to officers, and the showtime theatre may be used but only for ‘daily police briefings’.
Police go through the process of searching a car during the Devon and Cornwall Police skills demonstration day on May 18, 2021 in Exeter
A police officer takes part in a search routine during an open day to showcase policing activities for the upcoming in-person G7 Summit, at the Police headquarters in Exeter
Built in Germany in 1993, at 202 metres long the ship is one of the biggest cruise-ferries in the world and is owned by Estonian shipping cmpany Tallink.
She can carry more than 3,000 passengers with hundreds of cocktail-tray waiters, maids and other crew to look after their every need. There are around 1,150 passenger cabins.
Cruise liners have come under fire from Greta Thunberg and climate change activists for their role in polluting the world and causing carbon emission damage on a grand scale – precisely the issues the G7 leaders will be grappling with.
Devon and Cornwall Police said ‘We will be deploying over 6,500 officers and staff to this event and we are supporting a vast range of local businesses and suppliers as part of our extensive logistical arrangements.
‘This includes using over 4,000 rooms at almost 200 venues across Devon and Cornwall which will support local communities and accommodate police officers and staff deployed from across the UK.
‘In order to secure further essential capacity, we reviewed a number of options and recently agreed to hire the Silja Europa, operated by Tallink, taking into account impacts to the environment, community, the operational needs, and those of our officers and staff.
‘The vessel will remain static, moored in Falmouth, used for a 10 day period, with only the accommodation, catering and other essential facilities in use.
The Silja Europa, which is used for Baltic cruises, has seven restaurants and coffee shops, a nightclub, live music venue and full spa and beauty salon. Devon and Cornwall Police said the cruise liner has been hired for 10 days for accommodation
‘We are working closely with the vessel owners, ports authorities and health partners to ensure the safe use of this accommodation.
‘Those staying onboard will strictly follow all the applicable COVID safety guidelines, enhanced by daily testing – consistent with staff staying at all other accommodation sites across the force area.’
The fear of mass protests in the area has led the headteacher of St Ives School to announce it will be closed during the event, as many world leaders will likely be staying at the nearby Tregenna Castle Hotel, in St Ives.
Headmaster James Butterworth sent a letter to parents saying that due to ‘the unpredictable nature’ of the summit, a risk assessment has been carried out and the school, a secondary academy with more than 400 pupils aged 11 to 16, would close for three days.
It’s feared protestors will descend en masse to heckle the planet’s leaders including President Putin, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson.
Mr Butterworth said the assessment revealed ‘a number of significant safety concerns’.
The area around the hotel would be swarming with security guards – who are likely to be armed.
Surveillance cameras and even checkpoints to screen people will probably be set up, and school buses are likely to be caught up as traffic congestion hits the town.
He said that as a result the school will close for three days while the summit takes place and learning will take place remotely.