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Devon and Cornwall bolsters Airwave and charters ferry ahead of G7

Devon and Cornwall is bolstering its Airwave capability ahead of the G7 summit in June.

A temporary Airwave mast is being assembled in a car park to bolster Devon and Cornwall’s communications network ready for the three day conference of world leaders.

The force has revealed the 25.5m mast is being set up by Motorola because its existing mast network does not have sufficient capacity to support the additional use which will be required for the thousands of officers and emergency service staff who will be deployed.

It will be based in a council car park in St Ives, one of three main event sites, and is being set up under emergency powers. The mast will be removed at the end of the event.

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak mobile phone masts were targeted for vandalism becuase of conspriracy theories about a supposed link between 5G networks and the pandemic. So the force has gone public as part of its comms plan to engage with local people.

Superintendent Jo Hall, the force’s lead for the event, said: “This is a temporary measure to ensure that any emergency service workers in the area can communicate effectively when responding to incidents, it is not a 5G mast.

“With so many additional officers coming to the area to support the policing operation, this was a required measure to enable us to carry out our duties.”

A huge comms initiative including Facebook Q&As plus a local media blitz has also begun to ensure local people know there will be significant disruption across the county.

Supt Hall revealed officers will be working across land, sea and air as well as managing their work within COVID-19 restrictions.

So far 4,000 rooms at 100 accommodation sites have been booked and the force also has the option of a ferry to billet officers..

Supt Hall said the logistics plan is also helping to boost an economy hit hard by lockdown.

She said: “We will be needing 16,000 meals a day for police and staff. Wherever we’re based, we’re going to be using local businesses and delivery services. That student on his bike is going to be really, really busy.”

The force has also drafted in the Army to help with preparations.

“They are the absolute experts,” Supt Hall said.

G7 has had a long history of attracting protests by groups including environmental activists and ant-capitalism activists.

The force has prepared by creating four sites where they can gather – and has been in talks to accommodate them.

Supt Ryan Doyle, Protest Commander, told Police Oracle: “We’ve been engaging with the protest groups for some time. We are confident both with our plans and from our engagement that we will be able to facilitate the protests.”

The conference, which is held in the UK on rotation, plus the rise of major events and protests has led to questions about whether a national policing team is now needed to focus on big incidents.

Rick Muir, Police Foundation Director told Police Oracle: “A lot of the specialist roles are carried out at local level and don’t always get the investment needed. It doesn’t make sense.”

For the G7, the event is being run by a partnership that also includes local council leads and the Cabinet Office.

Sutp Hall said: “Included in the leadership team are Devon and Cornwall officers so they understand the culture. We’re trying to keep that consistent. The geographic area is vast for Devon and Cornwall officers; that is our normal. We are used to policing a vast area of moors, villages and beaches.

She added: “At the moment, everybody is working really, really hard. We’re looking forward to saying after it was a success.”

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