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Months of protests have helped G7 preparations, force reveals

The rise in protests has helped frontline officers prepare for the G7 summit next month, the force leading the operation has revealed.

Devon and Cornwall has revealed its teams have spent months meeting with groups planning on demonstrating during the meeting of world leaders from 11 June.

Senior officers and specialists are in the final planning stages for the event next month which will host world leaders at Carbis Bay.

Protests in the region have been used as an opportunity to engage with campaigners ahead of the summit to form a working relationship with them.

The force has pledged a ‘proportionate’ response but also revealed they are prepared if professional activists attempt to hijack gatherings or engage in serious disruption.

Planners are expecting 30 groups, including charities, to hold events to raise awareness of issues including climate change.

At a briefing about the event, Police Oracle was told officers have informally met leaders of protest groups across the region at public marches including Kill The Bill, Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion.

That has helped establish links so the force can negotiate to ensure local residents, including vulnerable older people, are not put at risk by actions such as road blocks.

“There was the Black Lives Matters event where 1,500 people turned up. That was quite significant for us. We also assisted in Bristol. We’ve got to know people and that helps.

"It’s also about their safety and ensuring their event isn’t hijacked by outsiders who want to cause trouble,” Police Oracle was told.

The force also made clear it is well-prepared and has been working with leads for major events - including the Metropolitan Police - as part of the build-up.

A key aim will not be handing the goal of negative media coverage to violent activists.

Inspector Nathan Johnson said: “We are a democratic society. It’s in our fabric. But similarly, we need to balance that so the local community can go about their daily lives. We should be able to deal with anything we are confronted with.”

But the event also comes after two years’ of major incidents, including the pandemic, and fatigue is a concern for frontline officers who will be helping.

The Norfolk Police Federation, whose members are among those being drafted in under mutual aid arrangements, has warned welfare is a significant issue for officers who have been dealing with the pandemic.

Chair Andy Symonds said: "Police officers are already seeing the impacts of the re-opening of the economy and society.

"We already have two leave embargo periods in place for this year. G7 and COP26 impact officers right across the country."

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