Police In Action At Wimbledon Tennis

Hold-up for tennis fans in the queue

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Police stopped a Spanish group of economic crisis demonstrators from entering the Wimbledon tennis championships on Saturday, causing hold-ups for thousands of fans waiting to get inside.

The 14 protesters from the Spanish-based 15M movement, wearing yellow T-shirts reading "real democracy now", had tins of paint and banner-making equipment hidden in their bags.

It was thought they were Spaniards looking to protest about Madrid's economic policies and might have been targeting the match involving Spain's world number one Rafael Nadal, the Wimbledon men's champion.

Club officials kept the gates closed for an extra 45 minutes while they assessed the nature of the threat. The group were then removed from the queue and they left peacefully.

Local police have worked with the All England Lawn Tennis Club throughout the year to prepare for the championships.

Superintendent Pete Dobson of Merton Police said "The Wimbledon Tennis Championships are one of the great British sporting events and we are fully prepared to police it. The Metropolitan Police Service has well tested plans in place to ensure a safe and secure event for all to enjoy.

"We work closely with the All England Lawn Tennis Club through the year on the security plans including testing and training everyone to ensure we are match fit.

"For the fourth year running we have a dispersal zone in place in partnership with Merton and Wandsworth councils to reduce anti-social behaviour, around the grounds including problems associated with ticket touting."

They are welcoming feedback about their policing of the event, write to: Chief Superintendent Dick Wolfenden, Merton Borough Commander, at Wimbledon Police Station, 15 Queens Road, Wimbledon, SW19 8NN.

June 27, 2011