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Monday, 11 October 2010

Services face squeeze, says police authority chairman (UK)

Police services in West Yorkshire face being squeezed further after it was revealed the cost of policing the English Defence League demonstration in Bradford this summer was £650,000.

The figure was twice the anticipated cost of policing the event and double the amount incurred at a similar rally in Leeds last October.

It means the total cost to the taxpayer for the Bradford event, including £100,000 spent by the Council on work at the Bradford Urban Garden, stands at about £750,000.

But Bradford Council leader Ian Greenwood suggested that the final overall cost of the August protest, which also involved a counter-protest by Unite Against Fascism, would be at least £1 million.

The £650,000 policing figure was revealed by Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison at a West Yorkshire Police Authority meeting in response to a question by authority chairman Mark Burns-Williamson.

Councillor Burns-Williamson told the Telegraph & Argus the EDL cost made a difficult financial situation even harder, following £10m budget cuts this year, and a further £5.2m savings being ordered by the new Government in June.

“It is money we wouldn’t have planned to spend in that way at the beginning of the year," he said.

“Obviously, £650,000 over a weekend is an extremely significant amount of money. We are having to find that out of our budget. We are not getting any extra resources from Government, or anywhere else.”

Coun Burns-Williamson said he and the Chief Constable had written to the Home Secretary about the policing of such events and exploring whether organisers of such protests could be accountable under civil law for providing stewards and a contribution towards the costs.

He said it was “inevitable” there would be fewer officers and police staff.

Coun Greenwood said: “My belief is that when we properly evaluate the cost to both police and the Council, the total will come to over a million pounds.

“The money needed to be spent, but if those people had not come to Bradford we would have deployed the money in a more constructive way and more in-keeping with the long-term needs of the community.”

The Telegraph and Argus