In the 48 years West Midlands Police has been here, we have faced some huge challenges. Riots, major events, terrorism and a global pandemic. Now we are about to police the biggest sporting event ever as a Force, as Birmingham and as the West Midlands region.
The Commonwealth Games present Birmingham and the West Midlands with an iconic opportunity. A chance for this marvellous place to be the focus of the UK and the broader Commonwealth’s attention. A moment where we can look at a place that is so familiar to us and see it in a new light and through the eyes of visitors. People who arrive in the city are amazed by how this place is so changed from its old image. A modern, super diverse and youthful city.
I have on occasions been frustrated by our desire to wear the badge of Second City in my years in the region. We should not regard ourselves as second to anywhere! The Games must make Birmingham and this region feel this way. We should be the friendliest city we have ever been and the proudest we have been as we stage a uniquely Birmingham and West Midlands event.
We are asking a great deal of you all. Summer is always busy and we have to deal with the challenges we face every year and Games as well. Operation Unity will have staffing comparable to the tenth biggest police force in the country at its peak. New friends from across policing to welcome and embed. Some of you will have moments where the Games touch you directly. Others will be working hard to do our everyday role. Many will be hard at work behind the scenes. All of you are losing out on time with your families. You are all part of the Operation Unity effort.
I want you to see this as the start of exciting times ahead. The Games will leave ambition for big things in this place. A confidence we can take on the biggest opportunities, something that is vital for jobs, growth and the future of young people.
We have a serious job to do. We must ensure a safe and secure event. It’s what we do incredibly well and we are joined by professionals across the police, private sector security, other emergency services to ensure we do this. I have total confidence in our operation.
After some very tough times for policing I want us all to make our mark. You are part of the visitor experience. Let us ensure as people come they leave with great memories of the police. Let us make sure we remember we are part of one big team and we will always muck in with volunteers, private sector security, marshalls and stewards to make this work. A city of a thousand trades with many thousands of smiles.
Do try and find some way to feel this moment. Go and see an event, go to a festival site, go and see the Baton Relay. An iconic event is coming to town. Don’t miss it!