The massive cost of policing protest rallies by extremist groups in South Yorkshire should be met by central Government.
That’s the view of the area’s Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who has spoken out ahead of this Saturday’s anticipated rally in Sheffield by members of the English Defence League.
In June, around 1,000 police officers were on duty to keep the peace when the EDL laid wreaths in memory of Drummer Lee Rigby in Sheffield city centre, at a cost of an estimated £600,000.
And the costs of policing this weekend’s rally could be even greater, pushing the total bill to the people of South Yorkshire for the two events to around £1.4m.
Commissioner Wright said: “The cost of policing these two events alone is the equivalent of an extra 46 police officers for a whole year. J
“Just imagine what inroads we could make in cutting crime even further and protecting the vulnerable with those sorts of additional officers on the street.
“Local tax payers’ money should be spent on policing local communities and local needs – not on these protest rallies. It is time that the government acted.
“In these circumstances, South Yorkshire Police is powerless to ban these rallies and the Chief Constable has no choice but to ensure there are enough officers on duty to prevent disorder and to keep everyone safe. “It seems outrageous to me that hard-working, local people who have nothing to do with these rallies and protests should have to pick up the bill.
“If the Government cannot or won’t change the law enabling the police to be able to ban events that could incite or cause violence and cause major disruption to local communities, then the least it can do is to ensure we don’t have to pick up the tab.”