Taxpayers have been left with a £200,000 police bill from last month's English Defence League demonstration in the centre of Hanley. And the Staffordshire force has warned the figure will rise further when all the bills are paid.
The estimated price of policing the demonstration currently stands at £196,631, but that is expected to rise once overtime hours are calculated and invoices from outside forces are totted up. The cost of bussing protesters from Stoke Station to Hanley has alone been put at £3,700.
Six hundred officers, including some from other forces, were used on January 23 to contain an estimated 1,300 EDL protesters and 400 counter-demonstrators. Subsequent scenes saw 17 EDL members arrested and six police officers injured.
But Chief Inspector Peter Hall from Stoke-on-Trent division, said: "Our intelligence-led approach to this operation ensured we utilised only the minimum resources necessary to deal safely with what was the most significant of events of this type."
By comparison, football clubs contribute towards crowd control and last year Port Vale paid £50,000 towards its policing bill. Government figures show that it cost £3.2 million to police 13 Premier League clubs in the 2007/2008 season. Staffordshire Police Authority member, and Stoke-on-Trent city councillor, Clive Brian said: "Policing is expensive and, on that particular day, the resources were needed."
Mr Brian said the cost would be met from cash reserves. He added: "Ultimately, the bill will be with the taxpayer."
The EDL protests also left businesses out of pocket. The Sentinel has reported how some experts claim £100,000 of trade could have been lost after shoppers avoided the area. Phil Ball, from Bucknall, believes the Reginald Mitchell pub should help pay the bill after it became the official gathering point for EDL members. The 49-year-old, who queried the cost of the operation with Staffordshire Police, said: "I'm surprised it cost so much, but the police did very well and must be given credit."
A spokesman for pub chain JD Wetherspoon, which runs The Reginald Mitchell, said at the time they were told the EDL intended to meet at the pub and plans were made accordingly.