SUSSEX Police have paid tribute to the crowds who greeted the Olympic torch as it made its way through the county this week.
An estimated half a million lined towns and villages along the route in Sussex this week.
In Eastbourne, an estimated 50,000 people, some packed ten deep along the seafront, saw the torch parade weave its way through the town, and there were similar scenes in Bexhill, St Leonards and Hastings where the torch relay ended on Tuesday night at the Stade for a concert from top band the Rizzle Kicks. And when the torch set off from Battle yesterday morning, on its way to Dover via Hastings Old Town and Rye, there were more fantastic crowds and community spirit to greet the Olympic torch.
For police, this was a major operation, known as Operation Hestia, and run from Sussex Police’s headquarters in Lewes.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison led the policing operation. He said: “Throughout the planning for the torch relay we have worked closely with our partner agencies to make sure that the operation was seamless so that the focus was on the public being able to enjoy the occasion.
“The good-natured spirit of the event meant the officers and staff who supported the operation out on the ground were able to talk with the crowds and assist them in getting the most out of the experience.
“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making the past three days such a success but mostly I would like to thank the public who made our jobs so easy, enjoyable and gave us all a memorable few days.”
The Chief Constable of Sussex, Martin Richards, was delighted with hos his officers coped with this once-in-a-lifetime event. He said: “I am extremely grateful to everyone from the Force who was involved in this operation. We are proud to have contributed to the safe journey of the torch across the country.
“I hope the estimated half a million people who watched the relay in Sussex enjoyed the experience and am happy that people have been able to enjoy the Olympic related events that took place safely.
“We believe in a community policing style for Sussex and the comments made by the public towards our officers and staff - both in person and via social media - have been full of praise for our approach.
“We now look forward to playing our part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games by deploying some of our officers to contribute to the policing of those events.”