More than a thousand police officers are supporting the public as the Tall Ships gets underway in Sunderland.
The Wearside leg of the sailing event officially launched today - and there is a packed programme of events to keep everyone busy right up until Saturday.
Yesterday, the public were given their first glimpse of some of the jaw-dropping ships that have anchored in the city, with the rest arriving at the Port of Sunderland today.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to descend on Sunderland over the coming days for the eye-catching festival of music, circus, theatre and entertainment - and Northumbria Police are on hand to help the event go smoothly and safely for the public.
The Force’s Marine Unit will be on patrol to help keep the port secure and respond to any incidents, armed officers will be deployed on the ground and motor patrols officers will be on hand to help get people on and off the site as safely and efficiently as possible.
They will also be joined by members of the Mounted Section and Dog Section.
Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said: “As a force, we have been preparing for this event for the last 16 months and we have worked with event organisers every step of the way to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
“While the Tall Ships itself has never before been held in Sunderland, we have a vast amount of experience in policing such large-scale events that will see thousands of visitors come into the area. We have tried and tested plans in place to deal with any eventuality.
“Our officers won’t just be there to patrol though – we are looking to engage with the public, take pictures with you and share in the pride and excitement that the Tall Ships will bring to Sunderland and South Tyneside.
“If you see our officers, make sure you come and say hello, maybe even get a selfie with them and ask about the work we do – we’ll be happy to chat.”
The event is spread across four event zones; the Port of Sunderland (Zone A), the Town Moor and East End (Zone B), St Peter’s Riverside (Zone C) and Roker and Seaburn Seafront (Zone D).
Getting to & from the event
Please plan your travel in advance as roads and public transport are likely to be busy. There will be congestion on the roads so leave extra time for your journey, be patient – and take advantage of the park and ride spaces. There is also park and walk, blue badge and premium parking close to the event zone.
If you’re thinking of attending The Tall Ships Races and being part of the colour and excitement, there are a few things you can do too in order to make sure you stay safe.
Keep any personal belongings safe, and if you are driving, please make sure you have locked your vehicle and no valuables are left on show.
Make a note of prearranged meeting points in case you become lost or lose somebody, find out where your nearest First Aid or Lost Persons’ points are in each event zone, and please keep hydrated in the sunshine.
Wristbands for children and vulnerable adults will be handed out throughout the site, which include contact details for the parent/carer to help reunite them if they become separated. Speak to an officer or a nearby steward if you have any questions or problems.
Anyone who sees a crime taking place, or has concerns about someone acting suspiciously, should speak to an officer on patrol or ring police on 101. In an emergency, call 999.
Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Communities and Culture, added: “With more than 200 performances, over 50 sailing ships and everything from craft markets to heritage festivals, there is a vast amount to see and do.
“We want everyone who visits to have a brilliant time and a bit of forward planning, not to mention flat, comfortable shoes, will make all the difference.”