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10 March 2011, 12:22
There's claims South Yorkshire Police are looking into a kidnap plot against Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg at the party's conference in Sheffield.
A 'ring of steel' has been put up in the heart of a city as police prepare for up to 10,000 demonstrators to descend on the Liberal Democrats' Spring Conference in Sheffield from tomorrow.
Up to 1,000 police are expected to be on duty in Sheffield between tomorrow and Sunday to cope with the thousands of students, trade unionists and a range of other groups who are planning to use the conference as a focus for anti-Government protests.
Estimates put the cost of the security operation at around £2 million.
South Yorkshire Police said it was also looking into one report there had been a threat to kidnap Lib Dem leader and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg during the conference.
A force spokesman said: ``The force is aware of the article. We are investigating its content and are looking to establish the validity of the story. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage in the investigation.''
Now an 8ft high concrete and steel fence has been erected around the City Hall, where the delegates will gather, and South Yorkshire Police has put in place a full contingency plan for possible trouble.
The city centre branch of Barclays Bank, which is just a few hundred yards from the venue, has decided to close on Saturday.
But Superintendent Martin Scothern, of South Yorkshire Police, said the barrier was a sensible response.
He said: "With a conference like this there are a number of related security considerations we have to think about from the terrorist threat, which we believe is very low, right up to the threat of protests and disruption of the conference that's taking place."
"This what we think is the most effective way of protecting the perimeter."
"It saves on security costs and it saves on the number of police officers that have to work the venue. But it keeps everybody safe and that's what this is about.''