Police securing Donald Trump’s visit to the UK are being forced to sleep in unacceptable conditions worse than cells, the organisation representing rank-and-file officers has said.
Pictures show cramped lines of camp beds filling a vast gymnasium and sleeping mats on the floor of a squash court for officers to rest on between long shifts policing the US President’s trip, starting on Thursday.
The Police Federation has complained of the conditions its members are facing during the operation, which will see officers from across the country enlisted at a cost of up to £10 million.
Simon Kempton, the organisation’s deputy treasurer in England and Wales, said 300 officers are expected to sleep in the gymnasium with no hot water and restricted access to warm 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.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said the conditions some of his officers have been “forced to endure” are an “absolute disgrace”.
“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,” he said.
“Some female officers are even having to sleep on mats in glass-fronted squash courts.”
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokeswoman said Essex Police are working “at speed” to resolve the issue.
“Some of the accommodation pictured today for officers supporting the major operation for the US presidential visit is not acceptable and below the standard of other accommodation for this operation,” she added.
The controversial president’s visit has prompted one of the UK’s biggest ever police operations, with thousands of officers on duty.
During Mr Trump’s trip he will meet the Queen and Prime Minister 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.
Policing minister Nick Hurd told the Commons that concerns over accommodation are being “managed”.
Replying to an urgent question from shadow policing minister Louise Haigh, Mr Hurd said: “She raised concerns about accommodation for officers in Essex, she was right to do so.
“Those concerns have been raised directly with Essex Police and are being managed.”
Ms Haigh, in her question, said: “It’s emerged overnight 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, no access to power and no hot running water.”
The Labour MP also questioned if Mr Trump’s visit will be “adequately” policed given there has been a “significant reduction” in the number of requested officers from forces across the country, adding: “Is he satisfied our policing system – having lost over 21,000 officers – is resilient enough to cope with the additional demand this weekend?”
Ms Haigh warned English and Welsh forces have “no guarantee” that extra costs linked to Mr Trump’s visit will be met and asked the Government to “fully reimburse” them.
Mr Hurd, in his reply, said he has received assurances over the resources in place for the US president’s trip, adding: “The number of police officers required for this operation has fallen significantly in the last two weeks.”
On extra costs, the minister said the grant mechanism was increased in the 2018/19 settlement and he has signalled it is a pot of grant money which is “open for business” in relation to this event.
Mr Hurd was initially forced to apologise to MPs after he turned up late for the urgent question.