Remembrance Day Parades: Dilemmas For Councils and Chief Constables

Labour shadow home secretary Andy Burnham has called on Theresa May to ensure there are enough police officers to organise Remembrance Day parades as cuts to forces are being scaled down.

The Queen will join Prime Minister David Cameron and leader of the opposition to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph next week but marches and parades elsewhere are said to be threatened with cancellation if there are not enough police officers to control the events.

Refusing to back down from proposed cuts to police presence at Remembrance Day parades, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex has called on local authorities to man the events.

Nick Alston PCC for Essex said district councils all over the county were made aware of the police plan not to send officers to marshal parades this year “weeks ago”.

This year, the Epping Remembrance Sunday parade has been cancelled, for the first time since the Treaty of Versailles was signed to bring an end to the Great War in 1919.

“It is right and proper that those who served courageously are remembered and honoured in ceremonies across the land,” Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex said.

“Whilst it is true that police have powers to close roads in certain, mostly emergency circumstances, local authorities also possess road closure powers which are more appropriate in this context”

“Local authorities are also able to provide marshals, if these are needed, and have wide experience in involving volunteers.”

The decision to cancel it comes weeks after Essex Police announced dramatic cuts across the county in plans to save £63 million by 2019-20.


 

Cheshire’s Chief Constable Simon Byrne said that officers and staff from Cheshire police will be present at 68 Remembrance services in the county for Armistice Day this weekend.

As the nation stands together at various war memorials to pay its respects to the servicemen and women who gave their lives for our freedom on Sunday, they will be joined by police officers from Cheshire Constabulary who will attend different events in the borough.

They say it reinforces their commitment that ‘We’re Here’ for communities.

And this weekend will see Cheshire’s Chief Constable Simon Byrne travel to London for the national Remembrance Day service where he will take up the role of Commander of the Civilian Services Contingent (CSC).


 

In a letter to the home secretary May, Leigh MP and former Labour leadership contestant Burnham said forces were being forced to choose which public events are offered police assistance.

“It has been brought to my attention that, for the first time, this is impacting on the police presence required for road closures at annual parades and wreath-laying Remembrance ceremonies,” he wrote.

“Following the centenary of World War One, there has been increased interest in these events and they have an important place in our national life. This year, events in Yorkshire and Essex have been shortened and the 97th annual parade in Epping, attended by hundreds of local people each year, has been cancelled for lack of the necessary police resources.

“With only one week to go until the public will expect Remembrance Sunday events to take place around the country, I would ask you to ensure that police forces receive the extra resources they require so that every event can go ahead and allow people to honour the memory of service men and women.”

A Government aide said the policing of Remembrance Day was a matter for chief constables.


 

Liam Hill, the Hoyland Branch Secretary of the Royal British Legion, said he received a call from South Yorkshire Police, who said they could no longer provide the manpower to close down roads for the parade.

With hundreds of members of the public expected to attend the commemorations, and the RBL not wishing to put volunteers in charge of stopping traffic, it took the decision to cut the parade short.

The village of Hoyland, Yorkshire's annual Remembrance Sunday parade has been shortened for the first time since the Second World War because of police budget cuts.
The village of Hoyland, Yorkshire’s annual Remembrance Sunday parade has been shortened for the first time since the Second World War because of police budget cuts.

Happily for Hoyland a local privately-run traffic management company came forward with an offer to provide support for road closures free of charge. Organisers hope the parade can now go ahead as originally planned.

A spokesperson for The Royal British Legion said:

“In regards to Remembrance 2015 we are aware of some localised issues where we are working with police forces and local authorities to alter routes, and the Legion is grateful for their support in ensuring parades can go ahead.

“The Legion works with force planning officers to identify the best ways of managing any risks and ensuring that the parades take place with the minimum of disruption, but also with the dignity and solemnity that they deserve.”

Sources: International Business TimesForcesTV, Your Thurrock, The Chester Chronicle.

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