Police in Merseyside are preparing for their biggest ever operation ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest.
A “visible armed presence” will be in place as tens of thousands of music fans descend on Liverpool for the competition, which will culminate with the grand final on Saturday May 13.
Chief Superintendent Jonathan Davies, tactical commander for Eurovision 2023, said there are “unique challenges” because the event is being hosted on behalf of last year’s winner, Ukraine.
“It is important to acknowledge our policing role in this event and, despite it being the biggest policing operation we have ever done here in Merseyside, we are confident we have a robust policing plan in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved,” he said.
“Hosting on behalf of Ukraine has presented some unique challenges whilst completing our preparation but we are confident we have the plans and processes in place to deal with any incidents that may arise and to prevent any significant, or ongoing disruption, to event visitors to the city, local residents and businesses.”
He went on: “We are expecting large numbers of people to head into Liverpool city centre to experience our bars, clubs and restaurants and we want all our visitors to know that we will not tolerate any violence, anti-social behaviour or hate crimes.
“We are linked in with CCTV operators and working closely with door staff, licensees and bar staff to help us identify these crimes if they do happen, but I would ask if anyone witnesses anything themselves, that they speak to a member of staff or police officer to highlight any concerns or issues and report any incidents.
“There will be a visible armed presence, but I would like to reassure visitors that this is not in response to any direct threat but just as part of our normal reassurance for everyone enjoying the festivities.
“We appreciate that this will be the first time that a lot of people will be visiting our city and so we want people to make sure their visit is memorable for all the right reasons. Therefore, we ask that people take steps to protecting their own safety by not leaving your property, including bags and mobile phones, unattended and always keep valuables close.”
Mr Davies said: “Public transport is expected to be very busy, which may well be further impacted by the national strikes which are scheduled to take place.
“So, it doesn’t matter which country you’re backing in this year’s competition or whichever festivities you’re taking part in, our officers will be out and about to make sure that everyone can enjoy themselves.
“Have fun, look after each other and remember to report any incidents to our officers.”