MORE than 200 Lothian police officers are set to be sent to London to help with security at the Olympics, it emerged today.
Police chiefs have banned all officers from booking new holidays during the Games and insist there will be enough cover left in the 3000-strong force to police the Capital during a busy period that includes the Festival.
The move has, however, sparked calls for the costs of sending the policing team down south to be met centrally and not from the force’s tightly squeezed budget.
The force is making available more than 200 officers with specialist skills in areas such as public order policing to the Metropolitan Police during the Games, which run from July 27 to August 12.
Police chiefs are in consultation with the Crown Office over the availability of officers due to give evidence in court during the Games to avoid added pressure being put on the force.
Chief Superintendent Derek Robertson said: “Lothian and Borders Police, along with all other UK police forces, are committed to supporting the policing of the Olympic Games.
“There was detailed and considered planning when selecting the skill-sets and number of mutual-aid officers that could be deployed to London.”
In the last month, police chiefs put in place a ban of officers booking any more annual leave during the Olympics.
Scottish Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “This is an event of such a scale that I guess it has to be all hand to the pumps.
“The Scottish Government have a responsibility for funding Lothian and Borders Police so I would hope they would put arrangements in place to ensure any additional costs to the force are met.”
Councillor Iain Whyte, the police board’s convenor, said: “There will be officers available for cover, especially when Edinburgh gets more busy during the Festival period.
“A lot of the officers that may be needed in London are those with specialist skills who may not be the people who carry out standard patrols.”
Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s community safety leader, added: “I am confident that, thanks to the close partnership working between the council and Lothian and Borders Police, there will be adequate police coverage in the city thanks to their increased focus on community policing.”
Meanwhile, the force has set out some of the planning arrangements for the Olympic torch relay when it passes through the Lothians.
A large police support team will be in attendance for the procession, while officers plan to use the same protocols employed for the Edinburgh Tattoo during a torch event at the Castle Esplanade on June 13.