Nato policing 'uncharted territory', head of operations says

ACC Chris Armitt said police would be ready for any unlawful protests

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Policing the Nato summit in south Wales next month will be "completely uncharted territory", said the officer running the security operation.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Armitt said 9,500 officers from across the UK would be drafted in, including 1,500 from south Wales.

The 150 visiting heads of state and ministers will require armed protection.

Around 10,000 support staff and 2,000 journalists will be attending.

The visitors will be staying at hotels from Swansea in the west to Swindon in the east, and at locations including Bath, Bristol, Gloucester and Chepstow.

The focus of the summit on September 4 and 5 is at the Celtic Manor hotel in Newport, but events are also taking place in Cardiff.

'Discreet'

ACC Armitt has been seconded to Gwent Police from Merseyside for the operation, and has been in post for eight months.

He said the 67 heads of states and the foreign secretaries who are both subject to armed protection under international agreements meant the summit would be uncharted territory for UK policing, but added the armed policing would be "discreet".

Security fencing in Cardiff for the Nato summit Many miles of security fencing has gone up in Cardiff, three weeks before the summit starts

As well as the security measures at the Celtic Manor, Cardiff Castle and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, a smaller operation will be in place in Cardiff Bay where seven Nato war vessels will be present.

Officers from all 43 England and Wales forces will be involved as well as Police Scotland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and officers from the Channel Islands.

For the 2012 London Olympics, up to 12,000 officers were on duty at peak times.

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Bringing food to the table
Celtic Manor atrium 10,000 delegates are expected at the summit

The large numbers of people attending the summit have meant significant preparations behind the scenes.

At the Celtic Manor hotel, they are gearing up to serve 2,500 meals a day to the delegates and their entourage.

Meanwhile cabinet maker Paul Rathkey from Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan is putting the finishing touches to two tables which will be used by the leaders for the summit.

A 25m (82ft) table has been constructed for the main meeting room, while another with a diameter of 17m (56ft) will be used by leaders meeting in a second room in smaller groups.

Everything about the table from the wood to the delivery trucks used to transport it will be Welsh.

Mr Rathkey said: "It's one of the biggest projects we've taken on, but we like a challenge."

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Police have been liaising with protest groups such as CND and Stop the War over protest marches planned for Newport.

'Disruptive action'

However ACC Armitt warned anyone trying to get into the Celtic Manor itself would face arrest.

"We're anticipating some protest activity at this event," he said. "The overwhelming majority of that will be lawful, it will be peaceful, we will facilitate it and we are in liaison with a number of groups who have expressed a desire to come and protest either ahead of the summit or indeed on the first day of the summit itself.

"And I think unfortunately we will see a smaller, more difficult protest footprint, people intent on taking some form of direct disruptive action or who may be intent on committing some acts of damage."

Celtic Manor The conference at the Celtic Manor will be attended by world leaders including President Barack Obama

A march is taking place on 30 August in Newport ending in a rally and speeches.

"We think we might see something a little bit more challenging, people who express a desire to go to the Celtic Manor," said ACC Armitt. "Any attempt to breach that will result in people being arrested because they will be committing acts of damage and they will be committing public order offences."

A 13.5km ring of fencing has been erected around the Celtic Manor, and fencing is going up around the summit venues in Cardiff, which has already begun to cause transport disruption in the capital.

The cost of the policing operation is being met centrally and does not affect the individual forces.

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