When you read this article, the Farnborough International Airshow will be into it`s second day and this event has involved a lot of planning in terms of police resourcing, but also the preparation for a variety of major incidents.
This bi-annual Show is a big event for Farnborough and the international eyes are upon it. There are a huge number of trade visitors, including many dignitaries and the numbers swell on the public days at the weekend.
There is a need to strike a balance between those attending the Show and the public, whose daily lives are to be considered so that disruption is kept to a minimum.
The tragic air crash at Shoreham in 2015, where 11 lives were lost when a display plane crashed onto a road has led to a major review of public safety and the rules regarding the safe distances that aircraft will display from the public have changed dramatically. This has meant that public safety has further increased, however, before the Shoreham crash, no members of the public have been killed at a UK air show since the 1950`s.
As well as public safety, there are a range of other events to plan for.
Last week I wrote about Resident Trumps visit to the UK and the subject of demonstrations. This will apply to the Airshow too where there are those who are passionate about the supply of arms internationally and the UK, USA and other partner countries are very much on display at Farnborough Airshow, so those who wish to hold peaceful demonstrations to show their opposition to the supply of military hardware around the world will have a right to do so and they will want to do it in places where they can be seen. However, they will need to do it in places where it is safe to do so and where they do not cause any obstruction to traffic etc.
Part of the planning will take into account areas where protesters can use, so this will prevent the need for people turning up unexpectedly and causing problems, however, it could happen.
Protester liaison officers will have spoken to groups either planning to attend, or are likely to, so that their needs can be factored in.
Any major incident will involve many resources from various organisations. The vehicles and equipment that they will bring with them will have to gather safely and the airport itself is only used for initial response people and equipment.
There is a designated muster point which is used, and all vehicles and resources attend this point and they are brought forward when needed.
This muster point will involve the shutting off roads and allowing quick access for responders, so a traffic plan is in place to allow for this.
Over the years that I have worked at the Show, there have been reports of a suspected chemical incident in a display hall, high risk missing persons and aircraft reporting faults, which has led to plans being initiated or put in a state of readiness.
There have not been any major incidents thankfully, but real report during the Show will naturally test the responses and the plans too and allow for changes to be made if necessary.
There is only so much realism that can be put into drills, so when there have been reported incidents, although these have not led to a real emergency, they are considered as real, therefore until it is known that there were no concerns, the responders are rolling out the plans which will show any weaknesses or changes which may be needed.
Each time the Show happens, there will be changes and this process has now led to a well organised event with robust plans in place to ensure safety and success.
For Farnborough, it not only brings in trade at the event itself, the numerous visitors will stay in accommodation, use restaurants and other facilities, so for business, it is very important and the renowned safety of Farnborough international Airshow will continue to bring in visitors who will have confidence in its safety and the benefits to the local economy too.
Lastly, resourcing will be a concern to many residents who will see an increase in police and may think that the needs of general policing are being overlooked during the week. This is not the case. The Show will draw resource away from day to day policing because events like these are part of the responsibilities for the police, however, this is minimised as much as possible where many officers are paid for by the company who run the event, and these are officers who will work overtime which is largely paid for by the event organisers, so there are adequate police resources for general patrols.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Farnborough Police Office.