Scots police travel to America to study G8 security
LUCY ADAMS, Home Affairs Correspondent
June 09 2004
Chief superintendent Brian Powrie, the Tayside Police officer in charge of provisional planning for next year's event, and a chief inspector, have flown out to Sea Island, Georgia, despite the fact the UK location has not yet been officially announced.
The summit of world leaders, which began yesterday on the US island, focused on the future of Iraq, plans to fight famine in the Horn of Africa, the eradication of polio and development of an HIV vaccine.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 federal, state and local officers were on duty yesterday in Sea Island, the adjoining St Simons Island, the nearby city of Brunswick on the mainland, and in Savannah, 80 miles north. Security was heightened because of concerns that al Qaeda might target the event.
Coastguard boats with mounted machine guns were patrolling the Savannah River between the summit's media centre on Hutchinson Island and the city's riverfront. A long, parallel set of 7ft, metal-mesh fences protected the only road that leads to the island, where federal agents stood guard.
The security operation included concrete barriers, metal fencing, checkpoints around key buildings and routes and patrol boats armed with machine guns.
It was hoped that holding the summit on an island would facilitate security services operations and reduce the number of anti-capitalist protesters.
The officers from Tayside are thought to have flown out as part of the Scottish planning operation.
Although the UK venue has not yet been officially announced, Tony Blair, the prime minister, is expected to confirm Gleneagles tomorrow.
Police in Scotland have predicted that up to 9000 officers may be required to secure the area around the Gleneagles Hotel and nearby cities. Anti-capitalist groups are already planning protests.
Some 25,000 police and military personnel were deployed by France and Switzerland to counter protesters and the risk of terrorism at the meeting in Evian in June 2002. All eight Scottish police forces are expected to cancel annual leave for most of June because of concerns about the level of security required for the summit at Gleneagles.
Tayside and Lothian and Borders police forces have already informed staff that it will not be possible to book holidays during the two-week period in 2005.
A source in Scotland said: "Officers from Tayside have gone out to look at the security operation in the States.
"The reality is that the annual leave will be cancelled for officers across Scotland once this is officially announced.
"Historically the summit has been a massive resourcing issue for the police and the question is how we are going to handle it. Tayside are going to ask for mutual aid from every single force in Scotland and even then we don't know if we have got enough officers. We are going to have to do a lot of additional training."
A spokesman for Tayside Police said he could neither confirm nor deny media reports about G8 because no official announcement had been made.