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West Mids readies for 3,000 Commonwealth Games officers

Final preparations are under way for West Midlands officers hosting the Commonwealth Games.

A massive mutual aid plan is rolling out for thousands of officers supporting the biggest sporting event in the UK this summer.

Athletes from around the world are due to begin arriving in Birmingham for the 22nd Commonwealth Games which starts on Thursday next week.

More than 5,000 athletes from 72 countries are expected to compete and there will be 283 different medal events.

A huge logistics and security operation is in its final stages with 3,000 officers being drafted in - most from across the UK to support the event.

Project Servator-trained officers will also be policing the games.

Police Oracle was part of the recruitment campaign which included a specially-made video urging officers to sign up for mutual aid.

They will be hosted at dozens of venues including the College of Policing’s base at Ryton.

Officers aren’t the only ones to have lent a hand to help the event succeed. Staff from the force have been volunteering to help make costumes for the opening ceremony.

It will also be the last major event for the force’s Chief Constable, Sir Dave Thompson, who is retiring.

In his pre-Games message to officers, he said: “We are about to police the biggest sporting event ever as a force, as Birmingham and as the West Midlands region.

“I have on occasions been frustrated by our desire to wear the badge of Second City in my years in the region. We should not regard ourselves as second to anywhere! The Games must make Birmingham and this region feel this way. We should be the friendliest city we have ever been and the proudest we have been as we stage a uniquely Birmingham and West Midlands event.”

He added: We are asking a great deal of you all. Summer is always busy and we have to deal with the challenges we face every year and Games as well. Operation Unity will have staffing comparable to the tenth biggest police force in the country at its peak.

“New friends from across policing to welcome and embed. Some of you will have moments where the Games touch you directly. Others will be working hard to do our everyday role. Many will be hard at work behind the scenes. All of you are losing out on time with your families. You are all part of the Operation Unity effort” 

He took part in an impromptu netball event earlier this week with Games volunteers as part of the festivities.

The event will the first where sustainability has been planned in from day one with emissions as a key priority and all venues will be turned over to community use after the games finish.

Another remarkable fact is that the Games has been put together in the shortest time ever after South Africa announced it couldn’t host the event.

Most of the major decisions – including funding – have been made at regional level.

Part of the Policing response has included supporting the Queen's Baton relay which has been crossing the globe before arriving in Birmingham for the start of the Games.

For one West Midlands officer, it’s been extra special.

PC Ariadne Taylor has covered the length and breadth of Britain as part of the Queen's Baton Relay Security and Protection Team since it arrived in Wales on 29 June.

And yesterday she ran alongside 13-year-old step-daughter Neve Symes who had the honour of starting the leg which brought the baton to the West Midlands.

They ran the 27km stretch of a miniature steam railway before handing over to fellow baton bearers as the royal relay made its way to Coventry.

PC Taylor said: “I’ve loved meeting and providing a police escort for lots of interesting people along the route; it’s ranged from young children to elderly people and also ultra-runners who’ve been hard to keep pace with.”

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