'The greatest show on Earth': BTP at the London 2012
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were the first
‘public transport’ Games and the largest UK peacetime police
“It would have been easy to be overawed by the sheer size of the
operation,” says ACC Steve Thomas, who led BTP’s planning for the
“But actually, when we first sat down to think about it, there
was nothing here that we hadn’t done before. We are used
to dealing with multiple large scale events around the country,
many of the venues were in use already and we had tried and tested
partnerships in place with transport operators and local
National event, national policing
“It wasn’t just about London: there were 34 venues across
England, Scotland and Wales and we had a role at all of
350 mutual aid officers, 50 Sergeants and 300 PCs were brought
in from 17 forces around the country. We also recruited
13 volunteers to help support the Olympic
and Paralympic policing operation.
Explosives search dogs are an
important part of the search regime and the capability of keeping
the rail infrastructure secure and disruption free. During Games
time we added 10 more explosives search dogs and handlers to
cover venue stations and routes, funded by the Department for
Our Games-time policing priorities
The main security and policing preoccupation at the time was
the threat of terrorism.
ACC Thomas continues: “It was natural that the threat from
international terrorism in particular was in the forefront of our
“We knew we would be very much in the front line of the overt
counter terrorism activity being undertaken by police forces across
the country. We had to be ready for that, whilst not ignoring
the other threats."
We were concerned with key areas of protest, public order, crime
– particularly from an influx of pickpockets who target any big
event. E-crime and fraud were also priorities.
“Because we work within a transport environment,” says Steve,
“we are not just concerned with the criminal justice aspects of
crime and other policing issues.
"Network disruption caused by crime, for instance cable theft,
or other incidents, such as a fatality on the line, are also our
priority. We are focused not only on delivering a secure transport
network, but one that is also disruption-free.”
A safe and secure Games
One of the biggest elements of the police operation was the
comprehensive pre-emptive searches, which involved some
“These searches were essential – they gave us a high degree of
confidence around the infrastructure,” says ACC Thomas.
“I think one of the big successes of the whole Olympic security
operation was the way coordination and communications structures
worked,” says ACC Thomas.
“Dozens of agencies were involved in delivering the London 2012
Games and we put a lot of effort into making sure we could all work