The English Defence League should contribute to the cost of policing its demonstrations, a committee heard.
Lancashire Police have applied to the Home Office for a reimbursement of the money spent on keeping the peace and preventing disorder at the Blackburn protest and counter-demo on April 2. The operation was described as Lancashire’s biggest ever and cost £500,000 on officers’ pay alone. Other estimates have put the bill closer to £1million with other factors such as loss to businesses taken into account.
County councillor and Lancashire Police Authority member Tony Jones said at the recent meeting that the EDL and similar groups should be treated like football clubs who pay the local force to oversee their games. He said: “If this is going to continue, why should the people of Lancashire have to foot the bill? Why should we lose policing in areas we want to spend money on when we’re having to abstract officers to police these organisations?”
Chief Constable Steve Finnigan confirmed he had since written to the Home Office to ask for a contribution. He said: “It has cost us an awful lot of money. I’ve raised it with Sir Hugh Orde [president of the Association of Chief Police officers] and the Home Office who are looking at the impact on forces around the country.
“There is the argument that this is the price of democracy. But it is getting very expensive and abstracting operational staff who could otherwise be doing important work. It is a big demand on the constabulary.”