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Bahrain: Safety cannot be guaranteed admits police advisor

NEWS STORY
19/04/2012

John Yates, who is employed by the Bahraini government as an advisor to its police force, has admitted that security at this weekend's event cannot be guaranteed.

The former Assistant Commissioner in the London Metropolitan Police Service, who resigned last year after expressing "extreme regret" for the failings of a review of the first investigation into phone hacking by employees of the News of the World, a review which he led, last week said he (and his family) felt safer on the streets of Bahrain than he does in London - a sad indictment of his success in London some might say.

"The almost nightly skirmishes that take place in certain villages are a potential block on progress and are putting those involved in their policing and innocent members of the public in significant danger," he wrote in a letter to FIA President Jean Todt. "However, in spite of how these events may be portrayed through the medium of Youtube and other outlets, their significance should not be overplayed. Along with my family, I feel completely safe. Indeed, safer than I have often felt in London."

However, speaking to the Guardian, he has admitted that there could be trouble at this weekend's event even to the extent of a track invasion.

"People say can we guarantee security. Of course we can't guarantee security. I'd be a fool to sit here and say that.

"Is it possible there might be an incursion on the track?" he continued, "of course there is. It's an open event. Can you stop some idiot running onto the track? There have been other incidents of track incursions."

He also admitted that it was quite possible that should an incident occur the police would react with live ammunition. "The police will have all the options you would expect," he said. "If the opposition started firing live ammunition, the police would respond with live. But I don't think that's likely.

"There will be protests over the weekend. But we want to make this a sporting event not a security event," he continued. "The man who is heading the security said he wanted security to be felt but not seen. And I applaud that.

"I judge it more likely there will be protests on the route and protests around the villages. I just hope it's a good event and I hope it goes off without too much trouble."

Asked about the human rights of protestors, he responded: "What some of the police are facing it's horrific. I saw four or five cops with life-changing injuries, faces taken off, ingested flames and lungs damaged. Where are their human rights? The cops have taken some heavy, heavy injuries."

Referring to claims that the police and security forces are making pre-emptive strikes on villages surrounding the capital rounding up potential 'trouble makers', he said: "There's allegations that people are arrested and not taken to the police station but go to these holding sites where allegedly terrible things happen. But that would be on YouTube. That would be posted."

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