THOUSANDS of police officers heading from every force in the UK will descend on South Wales to police this September’s Newport and Cardiff Nato Summit – with the event's gold commander confirming that the M4 will face some disruption but won’t be closed.
Assistant chief constable for Merseyside Police Chris Armitt said the summit – with more than 60 heads of state expected to attend the Celtic Manor and other venues – will see the largest amount of police resources ever brought into Wales.
Mr Armitt said: “There is going to a perimeter around Celtic Manor. There is likely to be some disruption on local road networks.
But he said: "How long it might last for, what it looks like for House A or House B is not there yet because the itinerary of the event is not there yet.”
Although the gold commander wouldn’t give specific figures, Mr Armitt said thousands of officers from the UK’s 43 police forces are likely to take part: “It is the largest mutual aid of police resources that has ever been into Wales.”
The Merseyside ACC denied suggestions the M4 would be shut for 48 hours: “We wouldn’t plan to do that because the impact upon Wales and local communities will be far too severe.”
But he said that didn't meant that at peak times there wouldn't be some disruption, explaining there could be periods when it’s not flowing as normal.
He said rolling road blocks might be used.
Mr Armitt told the Argus there would be “some” disruption within Newport and Cardiff but that speculation that city centres would be shut down for seven days was wrong.
A fence line would definitely be established around the Celtic Manor and some of the rural areas at the back, and some residents will fall within that, Mr Armitt said.
However he said that wasn't a huge number and residents' access to their homes will be guaranteed.
Information for residents in surrounding areas will be provided in leaflets, at public meetings and on the Gwent Police website.
Mr Armitt said the scale of planned protests – the umbrella No to Nato Newport group is planning to march in Newport on August 30 – is yet unclear but said it was “less likely” that it would be in numbers difficult to manage.
He said legitimate protest wouldn’t get a big push back from the police.
However the anarchist-affiliated Stop Nato Cymru group has said it wants to disrupt the first day of the summit.
Mr Armitt said: “I would urge them not to. In reality disrupting the summit would almost certainly involve unlawful activity.
"They can expect to be put before the courts.”
Under international law the policing operation is required to provide armed protection for political figure heads – meaning that the Nato police operation will use armed officers.
Mr Armitt was asked if there will be police snipers. “I’m not ruling them out and I’m not ruling them in.”
He said there was a thirst for information and that there is "unhelpful speculation" about the operation.
“As soon as information is available to us and we are able to release it we will. It’s in our interests that people look at what they believe it going to happen and they make their own sensible decisions," he said.
Mr Armitt added he believes there “will be a very significant number of journalists and visiting media who will seek to base themselves in the Newport area, because they will want to be as close as possible to the site of the summit.”