Tents and encampments banned from Olympics


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The Independent Online

Almost 100 people have been arrested ahead of the Olympics and all tents and encampments will be banned from the Games, the Home Secretary said today.

Theresa May said police and security teams were preparing for "all eventualities" and work was continuing behind the scenes.

With the Games six months away, Mrs May said she was confident police were taking a "robust attitude" to organised crime.

"The operation has already made nearly 100 arrests of organised criminals attempting to target the Games," she said.

A total of 97 arrests have been made as part of the national Operation Podium, including alleged ticket touts, people setting up bogus websites, and those accused of selling bogus hotel rooms.

"Police are sending a very clear message that we're not going to tolerate intrusions by organised criminals into the Olympic Games," she said.

"We are also helping the police and (organisers) Locog to deal with the other emerging threats that have faced the Home Office in recent months, such as encampment protests."

Strict security and screening measures will help stop any tents being taken into venues and organisers and police will respond rapidly to any incidents, she said.

"What I think is right is that we make plans for all eventualities. I can assure you the Metropolitan Police do have a robust attitude."

Efforts to stop St Paul's Cathedral-style protest camps and disruptive rallies at the Games have already been given "careful consideration," according to London 2012.

Lists of restricted items such as tents or large flags which could be used to disrupt other people's enjoyment of the Games or mar their view are likely to be published with the next tranche of tickets sales in April.

A gun would be part of the prohibited list.

So an army of protesters with placards or tents would be encouraged to leave.

A London 2012 spokesman said: "The conditions of entry for spectators are clearly stated in our ticketing terms and conditions and entitle us to prohibit items from being brought into venues and to remove persons from venues where necessary.

"This is to ensure that sport can continue and be enjoyed by all.

"We are also taking steps to ensure we can take speedy legal action to protect our rights.

"We will continue to work closely with the police and other agencies on our policies and plans for preventing and if necessary addressing encampments and other disruption to the Games."

Plans to tackle the key security concerns of terrorism, crime, protests and acts of God have all been drawn up, according to Commander Bob Broadhurst.

Noting that London is "no stranger" to terror attacks, he said that a counter-terrorism operation would be in place.

He told a London security conference: "The impact would be huge but the likelihood is actually very, very low."

Of would-be protesters, he said: "We have no plans whatsoever to stop protests. We are proud of freedom of speech - that will continue but the Games must go on.

"I have to balance the rights of protesters and people who want to go to the Games.

"I am asking protest groups if you want to protest come to us.

"We can manage protests but we need to talk."