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Commanding a police response to busy crowds in York – blog from Chief Inspector John Wilkinson

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Chief Inspector John Wilkinson was the policing commander in York on Saturday 25 July 2018, when the city saw tens of thousands of visitors flock to the races and also to conduct protests in the city centre.

As the Deputy County Commander for Harrogate, Craven, Richmondshire and Hambleton, my day job is very different to what was required in order for me to manage Saturday’s events. The degree of planning that went in to the day was significant.

Based on a range of information, we look at how many officers we need, where, when and what specialist skills and units we also require. Some of these assets the public will not see, but we want to reassure the public that our thorough planning processes make sure we have everything in place to deal with any situation that arises.

It was a very public day for the force in terms of our plans to keep everyone in the city safe, whilst facilitating safe and peaceful protests and allowing people to enjoy the races. When I say it was public, by that, I mean the media were asking what plans we had in place, following reports up and down the country about dwindling resources.  There was also speculation on social media about what was happening due to the number of officers and police vans they saw.

Some people always say we have too many officers out on days like Saturday, and others say we don’t have enough and some people think we remind the public too much about it being a busy time or to be vigilant and stay safe and enjoy yourselves responsibly. However, our ultimate priority is to keep everyone safe, and we like to communicate this message as much as we can.  This is why we also have plans in place around keeping the public informed and updated, so we can encourage everyone to take steps to make sure their safety is not threatened.

Some of you will not be interested in what we have to say on the day, which is absolutely fine. However, some people will value the information we provide, such as those who feel vulnerable when the city is really busy.

All in all, Saturday was a good day and the vast majority of people went about their business in a safe and responsible manner and enjoyed everything to city has to offer. On behalf of North Yorkshire Police, I thank you for your continued support.

Last modified: October 17, 2018