Security for the Tour de France, which starts in London for the first time on Saturday, has been stepped up following the failed attacks in Britain last weekend, police said Thursday.
Superintendent Ian Chappell of London’s Metropolitan Police said last-minute changes were made to the security plan – developed over two years in cooperation with the French authorities – in the wake of the attacks in London and Glasgow.
“We have reviewed our security plans in light of what happened last week,” Chappell told AFP. A total of 5,000 officers will be deployed over the weekend, he said.
An estimated one million visitors are expected to flock to the world’s premier cycling event which starts in the British capital, home to seven million people.
“The duties they’re doing have changed,” Chappell said of his officers, without elaborating for security reasons. However, he said that concrete posts, which will be obvious to the public, are being deployed in parts of London to restrict vehicle access.
Asked if people would find access in general more difficult in Britain than in France, he replied: “No, not for pedestrians.”
The Metropolitan Police has consulted with the French police and tour organisers about the changes in the security plan. They “agree they are appropriate,” he added. “What we have to do is to achieve that balance between appropriate security measures and respecting traditions of the Tour de France, which is an event that is open to all and is a free event.”
The event begins in London on Saturday with time trials before it moves south-east through Kent and then over to France. More than 4,000 officers will be deployed by the Metropolitan Police, with the rest being deployed by the City of London Police, British Transport Police, Kent Police and the French Gendarmerie. An estimated 80 gendarmes will manage publicity and the peloton as they normally do, added Chappell.
© AFP 2007