Wiltshire Police attended a very important virtual meeting with colleagues in the North Pole this afternoon (Thursday 24 December) regarding a planned VIP visit to the county this evening. There were representatives from various key business areas including Specialist Operations, the Crime and Communications Centre and Community Policing Team leads from Wiltshire Police present in the video call. From the North Pole Police the Elf and Safety Department , Reindeer and Sleigh Fleet Services and the senior Christmas Spirit Coordinator were also on hand to provide expert advice where needed.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said, "It was great to have a video call with our colleagues at North Pole Police regarding the logistics and final sign off for the VIP visit tomorrow. It has been the topic of much speculation, but it gives me great pleasure to confirm that the visit, which has been meticulously planned, has been given the all clear to go ahead. The Coronavirus Pandemic has put a stop to lots of plans, trips and events this year, but we have worked really hard to ensure this special visit can go ahead in a COVID secure way.
"Of course I can't share the exact details with you all as they are strictly confidential, but what I can say is we will welcome the VIP in the south of the county at some time after 11pm, where he will be escorted by our Roads Policing Team on his journey before moving on to the Avon and Somerset police patch.
"I need to share a word of warning to girls and boys around the county though, that the senior Christmas Spirit Coordinator shared with me. Please make sure you are in bed early and fast asleep tonight, as he warned historically children trying to wait up for the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof can cause hideous delays."
On the matter, Specialist Operations Supt Gavin Williams said, "This visit has taken hours of careful planning to make happen, with lots of hard work going on in the background by our officers and staff. We have supported policing operations for VIP visits to the county before including members of the Royal Family and US presidents, however the scale of our annual Christmas Policing Operation, Op Sleigh, is another level. A visit to every house in the county in such a tight timeframe is not something I would ever have believed possible if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes in years gone by!
"We have ensured all officers are adequately briefed and will be in the right places at the right times to assist with the smooth running of the visit. One of our main challenges is traffic management, which you wouldn't think would be a problem with the VIP using a sophisticated type of air travel, but appropriate parking and landing spots are few and far between! I am thrilled through that we are now in the position to welcome the VIP to our county tonight. I must admit it is an event I am always rather excited about overseeing and a highlight of my job.
"A top tip that the Reindeer and Sleigh Fleet Team from the North Pole told our Wiltshire Police Fleet Department, when discussing the advantages of Reindeer over more traditional engines, is that putting out carrots in your home for the reindeer to eat really helps them keep their energy levels up and make excellent time."
Take care everyone and Wiltshire Police wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas and a happy new year. It has been a challenging year but we have been proud to protect and serve our communities and help us all get through this unprecedented year together.
Published on 24 December 2020.