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Jubilee protests in Brighton and Hove could have cost £800k
1:40pm Tuesday 12th June 2012 in News
The bill for policing Bank Holiday protests is set to run as high as £800,000.
Hundreds of officers were sent onto the streets of Brighton and Hove over the Jubilee weekend and hundreds more were held in reserve amid fears of violent clashes between nationalists and anti-fascists combined with an anti-arms demonstration.
But only half the officers were needed, leaving the force with a bill of more than £2,000 per demonstrator.
Sussex Police used their Twitter feeds to complain publicly last week when The Argus estimated costs could easily reach half a million pounds, but did not provide a figure themselves.
Yesterday afternoon – seven days after they were first asked for a cost estimate – they revealed they believed costs could run to between £750,000 and £800,000.
About 400 officers were made available on Saturday, June 2, when about 100 nationalist English Defence League supporters visited the city and direct action protest group Brighton Uncut staged a 100-strong anti-Jubilee street party in Churchill Square.
Other forces, including West Mercia, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire, were asked to send officers as “mutual aid” to support Sussex Police.
A series of skirmishes took place when about 70 anti-fascist protesters tried to find the nationalists, who had split up into small groups in and around Brighton seafront. Police made 18 arrests.
Only about 200 officers were used on the streets. The cost of the operation is expected to reach £340,000.
On Bank Holiday Monday about 100 people took part in a protest against possible military action in Iran, staged by anti-arms group Smash EDO. No arrests were made. No more than 100 officers were sent onto the streets but again more were available. The cost of that operation is believed to be £280,000.
Those bills are expected to be swollen by Bank Holiday double pay for officers who were brought in from outside the city.
The £40,000 cost of policing the crowds at two Fatboy Slim concerts at the American Express Community Stadium is being recouped from the organisers.
Bob Brown, of Sussex Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “I am confident the force would not have required that number of officers to be on duty unless they have intelligence to suggest they needed that number.”
Community leaders said the police could not have acted any differently without more openness from the groups involved in the events and called on protesters to discuss their plans in advance.
Councillor Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said the fact UK Uncut and Smash EDO had chosen to provide some public information about their plans was a positive sign for planning of future events.