POLICE are expecting 20,000 spectators in Sheffield city centre when the Olympic torch makes its journey through the county.
A team of 300 police officers from South Yorkshire and neighbouring counties are to be on duty around the clock when the torch procession makes its way to the region in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games starting next month.
Superintendent Jason Harwin, who has co-ordinated the policing operation, said despite the high number of officers involved it would still be ‘business as usual’ for the county’s police force.
“This is the biggest event and joint operation police forces in the region have been involved with, and in any one day there will be in the region of 300 officers involved,” he said.
“It has been a massive undertaking but we have all risen to the challenge and the key thing for us is that this is a huge celebration event and we want those involved to be safe.
“The relay is about recognising the achievements of the torch bearers - people from our local communities who have made a significant contribution. It is their moment to shine and we are there, with local authorities, to ensure that happens safely.
“There are going to be some of the biggest crowds we have had lining the streets, and when it comes through the city centre the council is planning for 20,000 people at Barker’s Pool.”
Police officers’ leave in South Yorkshire has been restricted over the summer to ensure there are enough officers available to help line the Olympic torch relay route and monitor the crowds.
Roads will also be closed off and traffic congestion will need to be managed.
Rotas have been planned to avoid the use of overtime payments.
Supt Harwin said: “We want to make the event safe and enjoyable for everyone involved and but normal policing will continue too,” he said.
The torch will arrive in Sheffield on Monday, June 25 and leave the following day.
There will be a free two-hour show at Barker’s Pool, starting at 5.30pm, where the Olympic Flame will light a cauldron on the first night.