Security stepped up for Royal visit

A MAJOR police and security operation gets under way today as Suffolk prepares to welcome the Queen.

Dave Gooderham

A MAJOR police and security operation gets under way today as Suffolk prepares to welcome the Queen.

An estimated 150 officers from across the county will take part in the planning and security work involved in the Royal visit to Bury St Edmunds for the Maundy service tomorrow.

Thousands of people are expected to visit the town for the traditional service and to catch a glimpse of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Police will spend most of today, and through the night, ensuring St Edmundsbury Cathedral is secure for the ceremony while a central hub has been created within Bury St Edmunds Police Station to oversee the event.

Chief Inspector Martin Barnes-Smith, district commander for St Edmundsbury, said: “We are very proud to be part of such a traditional ceremony and it is a major operation for the police.

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“I think the number of officers involved is quite normal for such an event and the public can expect to see up to 50 officers on the ground at any one time.

“All of our threat and risk assessments on the event have come out as low and it is just a case of keeping the Royal festival and ceremony as private as it should be and ensuring a possible 2,000 crowd are as safe as possible.”

Motorists in the town have also been warned to expect sweeping road closures this morning as police and council staff join forces with officials at St Edmundsbury Cathedral to prepare for the visit.

Chief Insp Barnes-Smith added: “The total number of officers involved in planning the event and security is going to be about 150 police staff from across the county.

“As well as the road closures, the bulk of our work will be policing the public who have come to view the event.

“We want the public to come along and enjoy the event. Our focus is on ensuring the security of the Royal Family but also on the residents and visitors to the town.”

The Queen will visit St Edmundsbury Cathedral tomorrow to give out the Royal Maundy to 84 men and 84 women from the area - the number determined by the monarch's age.

It is the first time the town has been chosen by the Queen to host the historic ceremony dating back to the 12th century.

Among the recipients will be Josie Forbes, from Halesworth, after the 81-year-old was nominated by parishioners at her local church.

Miss Forbes , who also helps out at the town's day centre and worked in its police station for more than 20 years, said: “I am a little bit apprehensive and have butterflies in my stomach, but it is a privilege to have been chosen. I can think of so many within the church team who are equally deserving, but it will be a very proud day.”