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Policing March for England demo in Brighton cost almost £500,000
Nearly half a million pounds of public money was spent on policing this year’s March for England, The Argus can exclusively reveal.
The £492,458 total was more than four times the cost of the 2012 event, with some £1,970 spent on each of the 250 nationalists present.
The event, which was held for the fourth time on St George’s Day on April 21, saw running battles between rival groups across Brighton and Hove.
Twenty arrests were made with local businesses losing out on thousands of pounds of trade as a result.
Sussex Police defended the spend, arguing that the “largely peaceful” event “justified” the cost.
Superintendent Steve Whitton said: “From the start I have been clear that our absolute priority was public safety, responding effectively to crime and disorder, but also facilitating peaceful protest.
“Events such as this are costly to police, but I believe that although there were a few incidents of serious disorder, the fact that it was able to be largely peacefully facilitated and that actual disruption to the city as a whole was managed to a reasonable level, justifies that cost.”
A Freedom of Information request by The Argus revealed that the majority of the budget went towards deploying hundreds of officers from nearby forces.
More than £368,600 was spent on drafting in officers from as far away as Norfolk and Surrey, with 700 officers present in total.
The second-highest spend was on overtime, with £75,300 paid to staff working the Sunday shift.
A further £26,238 went towards specialist equipment, which included crowd control barriers and fencing.
Nearly £10,000 went on catering, uniforms and laundry, with £2,293 on transport and £10,154 towards “miscellaneous” costs.
In contrast the 2012 event, which was held in the city centre, cost taxpayers £107,843.
Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the Conservative Group, said: “Obviously I’d rather that this event didn’t take place, but everybody has the right to protest and counter-protest.
“It is a huge amount of money and unfair that Sussex taxpayers have to foot the bill.
“With cash extremely tight, this money could be much better spent.
“I also feel for the local traders who have missed out on business.
“Everyone has the right to protest but if those opposing the march didn’t turn up, they would probably stop coming to Brighton.”
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