ALMOST a thousand police officers will be working as the Grand Depart passes through West and North Yorkshire this weekend.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom, of West Yorkshire Police who is coordinating Tour de France plans across the region, said the force was well prepared for the arrival of the world's biggest annual sporting event.

"The main event control room is at Wakefield, West Yorkshire Police headquarters, where we ran the Olympic torch through the Yorkshire region two years ago.

"York, Leeds and Harrogate will have their own local control rooms too. People know their own ground better and how things work so we have taken those principles and scaled it up as a model. It's a tried and tested model, we know it works.

"I don't think we have ever had anything quite so large-scale. The race kicks off on Sunday at York Racecourse, who might have had similar numbers, but you wouldn't have then had thousands of people making their way into the city and all the way into Harrogate - we're talking one million a day and I can't recall when we have had that number of people out at once."

ACC Milsom said police were working closely with race organisers, local authorities, other emergency services and the 7-8,000 Tour Makers and 3-4,000 stewards.

He said: "Most police officers are dying to be involved in it, and really excited about it because you don't get to get involved in this kind of event often.

"There are 800 to 1,000 officers each day across the forces on the route. I know we have over 500 specials, so 250 Special Constables each day from Yorkshire forces and elsewhere. It's a big deployment of officers but with a million people and 130 miles we were conscious we needed to have a visible policing presence and not be spread too thin."

ACC Milsom said the force's main concern was crowd management, and numbers would be monitored carefully to ensure overcrowding is not an issue, but said the important thing for residents to remember was to allow extra time to get anywhere on Sunday.

He said: "I think a lot of the police work we're going to do over the weekend will be engaging with the community and visitors. Those wanting to be involved I would say plan ahead because with the best will in the world, congestion and road closures, there's nothing can be done to absolutely sort that out. Plan ahead and give yourself more time to get where you want to be."