After the last Head of State left The Grove hotel yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, December 4), Hertfordshire officers and staff reflected on the months of planning that led up to the biggest pre-planned policing operation the county has ever seen.
The spotlight was on Watford and Three Rivers as officers from across the county worked in partnership with Her Majesty’s Government, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), British Transport Police, mutual aid police forces and other local partners to coordinate their presence in anticipation of the meeting, which was part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO’s) 70th anniversary event in London.
Road, footpath and canal closures were put in place and access to the site was restricted days before the world leaders arrived at the hotel in Chandler’s Cross.
In the weeks leading up to the event, Hertfordshire officers from local Safer Neighbourhood Teams spent many hours engaging with residents, businesses and organisations both inside and on the perimeter of the road closures in order to discuss their individual needs.
A dedicated web page was set up on the Constabulary’s website which listed road closure information, maps and an FAQ section, and social media messaging ensured residents were kept in the loop about the event’s impact on the local area.
Local people had the chance to speak to officers at a community engagement meeting held in Abbots Langley on Thursday, November 21.
Two local engagement forums were held prior to the event so partners, including local authorities, schools and businesses, were able to give feedback on plans around community messaging to ensure it was consistent and informative.
Throughout December 2, 3 and 4, officers were stationed in and around the closure zone and worked in partnership with the traffic management company. They also spent time talking with residents face-to-face and answered any queries they had.
Two community checkpoints – one at Abbots Langley police station and another at Hollytree House in Watford – were staffed by officers between 8am and 8pm yesterday in the event that residents needed emergency access inside the road closures.
One resident’s boiler broke down and officers quickly arranged access for an emergency plumber.
A small group of protesters attended the community engagement area outside The Grove and carried out a peaceful demonstration which was fully facilitated by officers.
Local Policing Commander Chief Superintendent Matt Nicholls said: “As we return to normality, we would like to thank the residents, commuters and visitors for their patience and understanding in the wake of this event.
“We appreciate that it did have an impact on their day-to-day lives but I hope they feel we policed the event proportionately, and they were able to make informed decisions about their plans after receiving timely information from us.
“Officers who weren’t directly involved in the operation maintained daily business across the county and ensured residents received the same level of service they expect and deserve.
“Of course none of this was done in isolation, as throughout the whole process we worked in close partnership with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police and mutual aid forces, as well as Her Majesty’s Government.
“We also would not have been able to deliver the operation without vital support from our many local partners, including Hertfordshire County Council, Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council as well as our fellow fire and ambulance service colleagues and local NHS trusts.”
All road closures were lifted by 10.30pm yesterday (Wednesday, December 4).