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London 2012: My Olympic experience, police officer Sergeant Robert Snape - August-06-12
Source: The Telegraph (Sophie Haslett)
Sergeant Robert Snape is a police officer and public order officer in Greenwich at the O2 arena.
I look forward to every day of work at the moment; I like going down to Greenwich and the O2 arena knowing that that there'll always be something different and exciting happening. I work quite closely with AEG, the organisation that manage the events in and around the O2, and I've been there for nearly four years so I've got a really good working knowledge of the area. I'm obviously used to seeing the O2 very busy during big concerts, but the Olympics are completely different. It's a brilliant, carnival-like atmosphere, and it's so interesting to see all of the different nationalities that come down to sit at bars and restaurants and drink or eat together.
My background is that of a public order officer, so in the past I've done a lot of big football events like Millwall versus Westham or the Notting Hill Carnival, where there is often drama or the potential of violence. I think as a police officer that it's easy to get into the mindset that there will be trouble and people causing problems, but the scene in Greenwich right now is completely alien to me. It's not separated or segregated, there's a real party feeling and you can walk around and people want to talk to you and take your picture. There is obviously banter between the nations, but it's all friendly.
My team and I work long shift patterns during the Games - sometimes 12 or 13 hours, but it's not as tiring as I expected and it's nothing compared to the 20-hour shifts I worked last summer during the riots. Of course there have been a few teething problems, but they are being dealt with and handled very well. We get ticket touting at every sporting event, but the few ticket touts that have been noticed have been stopped and charged immediately. I think this sends a really good message out to the public and the media. There was one man who got sent down for 28 days recently. It's positive to tell people that if you're caught trying to sell tickets that you will be arrested and you will be brought before court.
From my perspective, and from that of colleagues I've spoken to around London, the Games are being handled really well. For the last year or so we've been given training packages about awareness, terrorism and what to expect during the Games - and I think the preparation by the guys at Scotland Yard has really paid off. It's interesting as we're working with quite a lot of outer-county forces at the moment, too, and the briefings have been very informative as the Met is keen to make sure that everyone is singing from the same song sheet. Fingers crossed there will be no major problems now.
I think I'm lucky, insofar as I can benefit from the great atmosphere that Londoners are talking about right now in a work capacity. While I haven't got any tickets for the Games themselves, I'm quite happy to come home, watch the TV and catch up on what I've missed that day. My routine is to leave work, watch the Olympics at home on TV, go to bed and get up and back down to Greenwich again. The lads are all working hard at the moment, but they're all happy and watching the Games on TV as well. I think the beach volleyball is generally the favourite event right now!
What London experience would you recommend to people visiting for the Games?
What has been your favourite Olympics moment?
What impact do you think the Games will have on London?
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