London 2012: 100 Arrests Ahead Of Olympics As May Says Tents Should Be 'Banned' From All Games Sites
Almost 100 people have been arrested ahead of the Olympics and all tents and encampments should be banned from the Games, the home secretary has said.
But the Olympic organisers have not yet imposed a total ban, saying only that they will work with the Home Office to prevent encampments "if necessary".
The Occupy protests seen at St Paul's Cathedral and other sites around the UK, in which large amounts of tents are pitched for long periods of time, have raised concerns that similar tactics could be used at the London Games.
The Home Office is keen to avoid such scenes at the Olympics, and on Wednesday May suggested that tents and other similar items should be banned from the Games.
In her speech on Olympic security planning at the Royal United Services Institute, Theresa May said that with six months until the Games police and security teams were preparing for "all eventualities" and work was continuing behind the scenes.
Calling out "encampment protests" as a specific new threat that would be tackled before the games, May said she was confident police were taking a "robust attitude" to organised crime.
The Met's anti-crime push ahead of the Olympics is led by Operation Podium.
Part of the Specialist Crime Directorate, Operation Podium "has been formed based on previous experience of proactively investigating and dealing with a range of crime from money laundering and fraud to organised ticket crime, across a range of industries and major events", says Scotland Yard.
"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.
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard told the Huffington Post UK that the arrests include offences not directly related to the Olympics but which were considered to represent a similar threat.
They include two arrests made against organised ticket touts at a Premiership football stadium.
"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.
We are also helping the police and Locog to deal with the other emerging threats that have faced the Home Office in recent months, such as encampment protests.
"Our approach to such protests will now be based on three aspects: strict security and screening measures to help stop the necessary equipment being brought into Olympic venues. Encouraging an immediate response from Locog to any encampment that does get through.
"And rapid follow up action by the police, in support of Locog, using all available powers to remove encampments and equipment.
"I have explained this new policy to Locog, as the event hosts for the Olympics. Its success will depend on Locog adding tents and related equipment to the list of items prohibited from being brought into Games venues — I trust they will now do so.
"I have also stressed to the police that they must act swiftly in support of Locog should they receive a complaint."
However the Olympic organisers said that it had already considered the threat of camp-protests.
"Locog has already given careful consideration to the threat of encampments and disruptive protests at our venues during Games time," a spokesperson 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."
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.
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."