Two years before games, police scope out security challenges
The Gibraltarian contingent that flew to Gotland for the 2017 Island Games last month included two senior police officers tasked with scoping out potential security lessons before the games come to the Rock in 2019.
Ensuring the security of the second Sunshine Games will be no easy task, not least because the threat matrix facing western Europe is constantly changing.
But already, the Royal Gibraltar Police is starting to draw up its plans.
Superintendent Cathal Yeats and Inspector Malcolm Figueras attended the Island Games in Gotland at the invitation of the Gibraltar Island Games Committee in order to experience the Games and see at first hand potential security issues ahead of the Rock’s hosting of the Games in two years’ time.
The officers were also able to engage with their counterparts on the Swedish island and see how they dealt with issues such as aviation, transport and policing large events such as the opening, closing and medal ceremonies.
Gibraltar last hosted the Games in 1995 and much has changed since then both in terms of the scale of the Games and the Rock itself not to mention the international terrorist landscape.
The experience, which Mr Yeats described as “valuable”, has taught them what to expect when Gibraltar hosts the Games in 2019.
“1995 was a long time ago, certainly collective memory has faded since then,” he explained in an interview with the Chronicle.
“I wasn’t in the police at the time and there are few officers serving today who would have been actively participating in the policing of those previous Games.”
Gibraltar has also changed significantly since then and so too have the Games.
Around 900 athletes competed in Gibraltar in 1995. Although the Rock will host slightly fewer athletes than Gotland due to the fact that football will not feature here in 2019 nonetheless approximately 2,000 competitors are expected in Gibraltar for the week-long event.
“Gibraltar is not what it was in 1995…and the security situation has changed,” Mr Yeats said.
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