POLICE cover across Sussex over the four-day Bank Holiday weekend will cost taxpayers between £750,000 to £800,000.
Sussex Police have just disclosed the amount the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations have cost the force with more than 400 notified events taking place across the county, with many other spontaneous celebrations. There were road closures for street parties affecting the transport network and extra days off work for many people,
“Sussex Police anticipated a busy weekend and planned at a Force level to ensure business as usual,” the force said in a statement. “In addition to the many small community-led events, larger events in Brighton and Hove required tailored policing plans. These resulted in the use of officers from other forces and extended shifts to help keep everyone in the city safe, while maintaining policing across the rest of Sussex.”
The statement added: “With the addition of consequential overtime for some officers elsewhere in Sussex who worked longer hours to cover abstractions to the city, it is likely the weekend’s policing will cost between £750,000 and £800,000.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison, Head of Sussex Police’s Operations Department, who oversaw planning for the weekend, said: “Weekends like this highlight the challenge of policing uncertainty.
“Throughout planning and on the day, the cost of operations is a constant consideration, alongside an over-riding duty to be sufficiently resourced to keep people safe in any likely scenario. We must base this on expectations and experience of previous events, without certainty about what the day will bring.
“Our planning model is based on a number of factors, such as notified intentions and discussions with event organisers to identify anticipated numbers and planned activity, whether there are other simultaneous events - particularly if they could create conflict - and experience of how closely previously events held by the groups have matched their notified intentions and if they have resulted in disorder.
“Over this weekend all of these factors - uncertainty about the intentions of some groups, high predicted numbers of attendees, possible conflict between groups on Saturday and significant disorder seen at previous events held by some of the groups - contributed to an assessment that we would require a high level of resourcing.
“On the day of operations we have some options to reduce resourcing and costs, which we took as the weekend developed. This included standing down many officers earlier on - with those from forces furthest away going off duty first - and reducing resources for Monday based on Saturday’s experience.
“Although the events were not directly related to the Jubilee, their timing over the extended weekend was another factor that contributed to higher costs. This is because the neighbouring forces we’d usually use for mutual aid were already largely committed to long-standing events in London, requiring us to use forces from much further away, incurring additional travelling and accommodation costs. Also, on Monday, the additional officers were paid Bank Holiday rates, double that of usual shifts.
“We are ever mindful that we are publicly funded and take our obligation to police proportionately and cost-effectively very seriously, particularly in the current financial climate. Having followed a thorough planning process already, we are reviewing our approach to identify if we can do anything more cost-effectively, while still keeping public safety paramount.
“In addition to reviewing our processes, I also repeat our plea for organisers of these kinds of events to work with us. We are committed to facilitating peaceful events - as most of those over the weekend were - and sharing as much detail as possible in advance really assists us in providing the most proportionate policing response. Most of the groups this weekend did liaise directly with us - although some of their plans were unspecific - and we are committed to continue building trust so all groups feel confident in doing so.”