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SWAT guard festivals, fairs in safety move

Updated: 2011-07-07 07:58

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Beijing - Security at music festivals, soccer matches and other mass activities will be boosted next month by armed police officers and sniffer dogs.

The capital's special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team announced a revamp of its coverage of large events on Wednesday following a two-year research project.

From Aug 1 activities will be separated into two categories, said Xu Hankun, the team's press officer, who explained that for events likely to attract more than 5,000 participants, such as concerts, sporting contests, exhibitions and job fairs, armed officers will use "closed management" techniques.

"We will strictly check all people, vehicles and articles with advanced security inspection equipment," he said, adding that those with less than 5,000 participants will have SWAT officers on patrol making random checks.

It is the first time any Chinese city has introduced a grading system for security at large events.

Xu refused to disclose the size of the SWAT team in Beijing or the expected costs when quizzed by China Daily. It is not known at this point whether event organizers will be expected to contribute money to the heightened security detail.

Zhang Fa, 25, a regular music festival-goer, welcomed the move. She complained that she rarely saw a police officer or security guard at this year's Strawberry Music Festival, one of the largest events of the summer.

"I only saw ticket inspectors and the security check was not strict," she said. "Actually, I was a bit worried about security during the festival because there were thousands of people in a small place."

China Daily was unable to contact a spokesperson for Modern Sky Entertainment, the media company that organizes the Strawberry Festival, before going to press.

Du Juan, a Beijing Guo'an soccer fan, said security at the team's home games is already tight. She said she counted almost 100 SWAT officers and even more police officers patrolling the Worker's Stadium during the last match.

"The SWAT team use dogs to check the stadium from the start to the final whistle, and people have to walk through the security gates before getting to their seats," she said.

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