Sunday saw the spectacular finale to what has been a phenomenal event for Britain. The country has, without question, come together in an inspiring display of civic pride. There have been some stunning displays of sporting prowess over the past fortnight, and Britain’s performance has been truly outstanding. The athletes will be proud, and deserve all the plaudits they receive. I instead want to take this opportunity to express my thanks and admiration for the police officers and staff, Armed and other Emergency services, the volunteers and security staff who have stepped up to the world stage and made this an event for the world to envy.
Indeed, the quiet dignity and good humour with which British officers have conducted themselves in recent weeks has been an object lesson in policing by consent. The tweeted image of a group of officers striking Usain Bolt’s distinctive pose (which I’m told spread to over 120,000 people in a matter of hours) serves to remind us that this was a sporting event with a security overlay, and not a security event that happened to have some sport. That is important. Despite some initial concerns surrounding the security arrangements the event has gone extremely well. That speaks volumes for the careful planning that the service and its partners have put into this event over the past four years. Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison led from the front with a passion and energy that I cannot praise highly enough.
Officers from across the country cancelled leave, left their home towns and families (often at quite short notice) to band together to help make the past two weeks a success. It is the, globally recognised, approachable demeanour and can-do attitude of the British Police Officer that makes this police service great. Policing is a difficult job and the magnitude of this event cannot be played down, it was not only the individuals both in and out of uniform who went out to guard the venues but also those who stayed on the streets of their communities; all should be proud of what they have achieved.
Now the Olympics successfully behind us, the focus turns to the Paralympic Games, which begin on 29 August and run until 9 September. Although smaller in size, there has already been phenomenal demand for tickets (I myself have failed to get any) and we are likely to see another major event. I am confident that the professionalism demonstrated by the police service and our partners will once again be in evidence in making the Paralympics a success.
The Queen’s Police Medal bears the inscription to “protect my people” - a simple statement; but a vital mission. A mission that officers carry out every day. I am therefore pleased to note that the Prime Minister plans to recognise the pursuit of that mission through a commemorative coin for those who took part. It will act as a reminder for a story that officers will be telling for a generation. I was there and, to borrow Lord Coe’s words, we did it right.