POLICE say they are confident of keeping any trouble to a minimum during this year’s Henley Royal Regatta.
Up to 80 officers will be on duty during the five-day event next month, both by the river and in the town centre.
They will once again use section 27 orders, which allow them to remove people from an area for 48 hours, and public place orders, which allow them to confiscate alcohol from people drinking in the street.
Last year, when more than 200,000 people attended the regatta, just 26 arrests were made in the town over the five days. The previous year there were 23 arrests.
There were 56 reported crimes last year, two more than in 2012. Of those, 26 were reported to have taken place by the river and the rest in the town centre.
Ch Insp Robert France, who will be in charge of policing for the regatta period, said officers knew what to expect. “We have planned around our experiences in past years,” he said. “As the regatta builds up and formally starts on the Wednesday, we will start with patrols, fewer in the morning and then building up through the day.
“The Friday and Saturday tend to be particularly busy with the majority of people having a fantastic time at one of the best events in this part of the country.
“A handful of people can cause problems and our officers want to make sure that we deal with those people.
“Over the last couple of years crime during the regatta has been very low considering how many people attend the event. Nonetheless, every incident is something which impacts on others and we recognise the risk that comes with events with lots of people and lots of alcohol. We now have a well-established plan for drink and the orders allow officers to take alcohol and exclude people from the regatta area and town centre before they are likely to commit a crime.”
Ch Insp France said he wanted to reassure residents, saying: “Officers from our neighbourhood teams are going to be working within communities dealing with issues that may arise.
“We are using neighbourhood officers from Henley and nearby whose responsibility normally is the same area. Any additional officers will come from all over the Thames Valley.”
Of the 26 arrests last year, all but five came on the Saturday night, when the town is usually at its busiest. Police also handed out 100 Section 27 orders. The most common type of crime was mobile phone theft. Chief Insp France said: “The message we have been trying to get out this time is to think about whether you need to bring your usual phone.
“Some of the smartphones today are like little computers that you carry around in your pocket all day so we are asking could you bring a cheaper phone? On the evidence of last year, the chance of getting a signal anyway is minimal so think about whether you need it at all.”
Police will be able to close Henley Bridge and Thames Side to vehicles if the crowds become too big during the regatta.
A traffic order will be in place from 9am to 11pm on the Wednesday, Thursday Friday and Sunday and from 9am to midnight on the Saturday.
Vehicles will be unable to turn left into Thames Side from Henley Bridge for the entire duration of the event or wait in Deanfield Avenue, Paradise Road or Fair Mile.
Loading or unloading will be prohibited in Greys Road and there will be no waiting allowed in Thames Side between 9am and 9pm.