Pope's visit a security headache

2010-09-18 07:24

kalahari.com

London - Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to Britain involved a major security operation even before five men were arrested on Friday on suspicion of plotting a "terrorist" attack linked to his trip.

Protecting the pope in four cities in Scotland and England at a mix of official and religious events threw up unusual challenges for British police, given that few state visits normally stray out of London.

The police commander in charge insisted before the visit that detectives knew of no specific planned threat against the pontiff.

"There is no intelligence to suggest any specific group will attack the pope," Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes said.

He said no previous state visit had involved so many different sites in Britain, but added that nobody wanted "a giant security operation with a religious service bolted on the back".

Benedict is visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham in central England on his four-day trip, which ends on Sunday.

Besides the pope, police would also have to protect those wishing to see him, as well as protesters, Hughes said.

Security measures evident

The estimated policing cost of the visit is between £1m and £1.5m.

The security measures have been evident since the visit began on Thursday.

Britain's top specialist public protection unit is being used, with armed officers deployed.

Black-clad police officers could be seen on the roof of the Palace of Hoylroodhouse in Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II's official residence in Scotland, as she welcomed the pontiff on Thursday.

Officers in high-visibility jackets lined the barricades as the pope and his entourage drove through the Scottish capital.

The pontiff has used his popemobile in Edinburgh, Glasgow - where it edged through crowds at the mass - and London.

In the British capital, sniffer dogs checked outside Westminster Abbey on Friday and unarmed police lined the popemobile's route.

Tight security

The vehicle is flanked by a team of security guards in suits, with two at the front holding onto the vehicle.

The bulletproof glass windows can be lowered, as seen at the mass in Glasgow when Benedict kissed a baby held up by a pilgrim.

When not in the popemobile, the pontiff and his entourage sweep along in a fleet of cars, escorted by police motorcycles.

Police closed around 60 bridges on the road from Edinburgh to Glasgow as the pope travelled between the two Scottish cities.

When the pope visited a college in London on Friday - a few hours after the arrests - monks and nuns were frisked and had to pass through security scanners. Nuns' veils were inspected and rosary beads removed from handbags.

British police said the five men were held "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism" when officers raided a business address in central London in the early hours.

Local authorities said they were street cleaners who work in the Westminster area where the pope spent much of Friday.

'Totally calm'

Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said they were "totally confident" in the police.

"We are totally calm. The pope is happy with the trip until now and we go on with the same joy," he said.

For foreign visits, two Swiss Guards and members of the Vatican's security forces take charge of the pope's personal security, with the head of the Vatican team always at his side. The local police handle all other security aspects of the visit.

The baggage of everyone travelling on "Shepherd One", the papal plane, was manually searched and scanned. On board, Benedict sits at the front, with bodyguards preventing anyone from getting close.

The 83-year-old pontiff has been attacked during his five-year papacy.

In June 2007 a man leapt across a barrier in Vatican City and nearly mounted his vehicle and Benedict was pulled to the ground in December 2009 in St Peter's Basilica by a woman who cleared a barricade and grabbed his vestements.

His predecessor John Paul II survived an assassination attempt in 1981.
- SAPA
Read more on:    pope benedict xvi  |  uk  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 

6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!

 
 

For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may be bothering you. A flooded mind and impulsive reactions are not a good combination as you are not thinking clearly....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.