Having recently changed allegiances (at least in terms of the newspaper I work for) I had a pleasant experience on Friday, actually taking photographs, rather than sitting watching empty houses, or parked up for days outside the wrong address, the day started with a Tony and Cherie Blair, at their new house.

They left separately, but I got them both, but one of the things that staggered me was the amount of security they require and how many people it takes to provide it, I dread to think of the costs to the tax payer.

A quick use of the fingers to tot up, at anytime there was an armed Police Officer on the door step, two armed officers walking around the square, these were rotated every couple of hours, plus at least one driver, two personal security officers, plus two personal drivers. A unit from the Anti-Terrorist section dropped by fairly regularly. This went on for 24 hours a day. Which assuming 8 hour shifts, which is generally the norm, means 28 officers to cover any single 24 hour period, plus rotations for days off, holidays etc, so another 16 Officers.

The rather frightening total, not allowing, re-training, refresher courses and any other duties that may need covering assuming that the officers were on a minimal wage of £25,000 per annum (not including London Weighting Allowance) means over £1 Million a year on security.

Half way through the day, I was called to a Suspect Car at the Notting Hill Gate Tube Station, which was coupled with the smell of gas in the area, so the Met Police, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance turned up in number as the Bomb Disposal Team were called in. It was dealt with very quickly and the cordon went at 1300hrs and was finished with by about 1600hrs after a controlled explosion.

As is usual with my experience with the Met Police, the officer dealing was very professional and we were able to get behind the cordon before the car was removed. Information was flowing, there was no attempt to conceal or deny (as was regularly the problem during the “troubles”). Which was pleasantly surprising seeing as the incident was just a short distance from Hyde Park the day before several very large events, including the Tour de France, T in the Park and Live Earth events. So well done to the boys in blue. Net result more photographs taken in 8 hours, than since January for the Sunday Mirror!!

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