South Yorkshire Police ask for EDL cash

EDL march and rally in Rotherham town centre.
EDL march and rally in Rotherham town centre.
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Police chiefs in South Yorkshire are to ask the Home Office for funding to pay for EDL policing operations in Rotherham.

The English Defence League has threatened to return to Rotherham ‘on a very regular basis’ following a rally in the town on Saturday – which cost around £500,000 to police.

Around 1,000 officers were drafted in from across south Yorkshire and neighbouring forces to police the event, which led to some shopkeepers closing their businesses.

Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, who led the operation, said South Yorkshire Police would be unable to prevent further demonstrations and counter protests and would have to respond.

“People have a legal right to protest,” he said.

“Public safety will have to take priority and there will be conversations between the Chief Constable, Police and Crime Commissioner and Home Office.

“If there are to be more regular events we will have to have a conversation with the Home Office to see if there would be any availability of funding for the policing operations we would have to mount.”

Neil Bowles, of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, said: “Policing protests and other events, such as major sporting events and political conferences, comes at a cost to normal day-to-day policing.

“This will be either on the day, or in the future as officers’ leave is cancelled, and it has to be used sometime.

“I believe the Police and Crime Commissioner has a contingency budget for such events, but how long will that last if they come back on a regular basis?”

South Yorkshire Police was set a target of saving £49.3 million between March 2011 and 2015 after the Government slashed budgets.