Armed police to patrol Pride in London as Cressida Dick admits the event will ‘feel different’
The Metropolitan Police is mounting a majaor security operation ahead of London’s LGBT pride parade.
Armed police officers are set to patrol the streets in a bid to keep pride-goers safe.
Police bosses are urging Londoners to celebrate as usual in the wake of terrorist attacks on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.
Met Commisioner Cressida Dick admitted that the heightened presence will mean celebrations “look and feel a bit different this year”.
Up to a million people are expected to line the streets of London for the July 8 march.
Police have spent several months preparing for the event – now the third biggest annual occasion in London, outdone only by New Year’s Eve and the London Marathon.
Officer say a detailed policing plan has been put in place to portect pride-goers from any potental incidents.
Both armed and unarmed officers will be patrolling London’s streets in the stepped up security presence.
Concrete roadblocks have also been set up to guard against a London Bridge-style attack, with tens of thousands of partygoers expected to descend on Soho.
Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap, Met spokesperson for the event, said: “We know that recent events in London and Manchester will cause people to worry.
“As with any large event the Met’s priority is public safety and we are working closely with the organisers in the lead up to Pride to develop our policing plan.
“We want Pride to be a friendly and safe event for everyone to enjoy and, to help us, we need the public to take the usual precautions by remaining vigilant and reporting anything of concern to police officers or stewards at the event.”
Chair of City Hall’s Police and Crime Committee, Steve O’Connell, told PinkNews: “As Chair of the Assembly Police and Crime Committee I am satisfied that the Metropolitan Police continue to strive to keep all Londoners safe in these difficult times.
“I hope that everyone attending will enjoy the Pride Events in our City, and that they will do so in a safe and happy environment.”
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150 LGBT officers and allies are also expected to march in the parade, alongside colleagues from the British Transport Police, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service.
PC Lee Hawkins, Deputy Chair of the Met’s LGBT Network said: “Uniformed Met officers have taken part in the parade since 2003, this year will be our biggest contribution ever with over 150 officers, staff and supporters.
“I am proud to welcome also our Police Cadet and county forces colleagues, who will march alongside us throughout the day.
“Leading the parade will be assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt, joined by Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, and other senior officers.”