Dorset

London 2012 Olympics: sailing police could stay on ship

Osprey Quay, site of the 2012 Olympic sailing events
Image caption Osprey Quay was the first Olympic site for the 2012 Games to be completed

Hundreds of police officers drafted in to protect competitors during the 2012 Olympic Games sailing events could be stationed on a cruise ship in Dorset.

Organisers are discussing plans to spend up to £6.6m mooring a private boat at Portland Harbour.

Weymouth and neighbouring Portland will host the sailing events.

The 432-room vessel could be filled by about 800 officers. But officials are split over the plan fearing officers may misbehave.

Mislaid guns

They are also concerned about a public backlash against the use of a holiday vessel.

When Canadian police chiefs brought in three cruise liners for the Vancouver Winter Games they saw a spike in complaints of misconduct.

There was a spate of allegations of drunkenness, unwanted sexual advances and mislaid guns among the thousands of officers stationed on board.

One source said Dorset police leaders preferred floating accommodation because it was relatively cheap and would be on the doorstep of the events.

Weymouth and Portland will host all sailing and windsurfing events during the Olympic and Paralympic Games between 27 July and 9 September.

About 2,000 sailors, coaches and officials are expected during the sailing events in Dorset.

If approved, the vessel would also be used as a briefing, deployment and feeding centre for officers stationed on board and on land.

£33m bill

The move is one solution for emergency service organisers struggling to find beds for thousands of police, paramedics and firefighters.

They discovered Olympic organisers and travel firms had already booked large numbers of hotel rooms, forcing up prices and leaving few unoccupied.

The accommodation bill has already risen from £19m to £33m partly because many police officers have asked for hotel rooms for "operational reasons".

Organisers must find 132,000 "bed nights" for everyone from bodyguards to marksmen, drivers, catering staff and technicians.

An Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokesman said: "Nationally, a number of options are under consideration, with the preferred solution for the majority likely to be university halls-style accommodation."

He added that no final decisions had been taken.

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