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Officers policing Trump visit sleeping on mats ‘worse than cells’

Police Federation says conditions are worse than cells for officers working away from home.


Donald Trump is expected to meet Theresa May and the Queen during his UK visit. Photo: APA-PictureDesk/Rex/Shutterstock

Officers policing Donald Trump’s trip to the UK are being forced to sleep in unacceptable conditions worse than cells, rank and file police have complained as the government reveals it is expecting more than 100 separate protests over the visit.

Members of the Police Federation circulated images showing cramped lines of camp beds filling a sports hall in Essex, and sleeping mats on the floor of a squash court, for officers to rest on between long shifts policing the controversial visit.

The Home Office minister, Nick Hurd, was challenged about the conditions facing officers when an urgent question was granted on the issue in the House of Commons.

The shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh, said: “It has emerged that officers being accommodated in Essex are sleeping on cots in squash courts, 100 female officers with four toilets between them, likely to be sleeping on mats tonight, 300 male officers with five toilets between them. Is it any wonder that forces struggle to fill their requirements?”

Hurd replied: “Those concerns [about accommodation] have been raised directly with Essex police and are being managed.”

He confirmed that nearly every force in the country has been asked to contribute officers to help police the visit. He also revealed the scale of the estimated protests, saying: “The police are expecting over a 100 separate protests across the country, there are separate policing plans within one strategy.”

The cost of policing the visit will come to a minimum of £12m, with leave for thousands of officers cancelled, a particular strain for forces on alert for possible disorder during the World Cup.

About 4,000 officers will be drafted into the areas Trump is visiting, the biggest mobilisation since the 2011 riots across England. The National Police Chiefs’ Council has urged the public to avoid putting any extra strain on officers, many of whom will work 12-hour shifts.

Hurd conceded that the visit comes at a time when the police are “very stretched”. He told the Commons: “This is a significant policing operation and comes at a time when police resources are also focused on investigating the incidents in Salisbury, in protecting us against terrorist attacks, and in delivering on their own local policing plans.

“That right to protest is a fundamental one and needs to be respected.”

The Police Federation has complained about the conditions its members are facing during the operation. Simon Kempton, the organisation’s deputy treasurer in England and Wales, said 300 officers were expected to sleep in a sports hall with no hot water and restricted access to hot food.

“These officers have been asked to leave their families to travel to another part of the country to help protect the public and the president, and all they expect in return is to be treated with some dignity and respect,” he said.

“What’s clear is that anyone overnight who has been arrested by the police would be put in accommodation far superior to what the officers are staying in.”

He said officers at that site are only averaging three to four hours’ sleep ahead of 15-hour shifts because of the conditions.

John Apter, the chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation, said: “There’s so much pressure on officers at the moment. Many are having rest days cancelled, working extended hours and this on top of it – do the bosses really care?

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said the conditions were “an absolute disgrace”.

He said: “No officer should be made to sleep on a camp bed, inches from the floor, in a sports hall with scores of colleagues only metres apart after a 12-hour shift.

“These officers are in the south east to keep the president safe. They aren’t asking for luxury accommodation, but the least we can do is put them up in a room with a proper bed.”

Hurd was also challenged about why the Metropolitan police had refused to allow a platform to be erected in Portland Place for speakers at the demonstrations.

Hurd said: “The police have worked closely with organisers of the protests because they are absolutely determined to respect the fundamental right in this country to peaceful protest. They do have the right to impose some conditions on protests in the interest of public safety.”

During his trip, Trump is expected to meet the Queen and Theresa May as he visits locations including Blenheim Palace, Chequers, Windsor Castle, the US ambassador’s official residence in Regent’s Park, London, and Scotland.

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