December 22 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Nearly £130,000 was spent policing a march by the English Defence League and a counter-march by its opponents, it has been revealed.
Norfolk police estimates the final bill for the November 10 protests by the EDL and a coalition of groups marching as We Are Norwich will reach £128,905.
The costs will be paid from contingency funds held by police to support operational costs from such events.
Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “This was a significant policing operation for Norfolk which required support from a number of external police forces and specialist units.
“Our plan sought to protect the safety of all of those involved, and the general public, and to minimise disruption in the city – we did so successfully, but of course there is a cost attached.”
Norfolk police mounted an operation involving 400 officers, including some drafted in from 10 other forces around the country, to ensure the safety of protesters and the public on the day.
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith praised the police response but said it was “a great shame” the money had to be spent. She said: “Most people wanted to go about their business – whether that was shopping on a busy Saturday or any other peaceful activity in the city centre.
“I was clear at the time we did not want the march to take place and everyone would have preferred for Norwich to be the fine city that it is.”
She added: “The police did the job that we would have expected of them in taking sensible precautions.” Comparatively, Norfolk police spent £21,752 on overtime payments for officers policing the Ipswich Town football fixture in Norwich in November 2010. Freedom of Information documents disclose this figure does not include the cost of officers who were deployed as part of their regular hours.
Around 1,500 We Are Norwich protesters, made up of faith, community and political groups, took to the streets of the city in opposition to the 250-strong EDL presence.
The EDL chose to march in Norwich in protest at Norwich City Council’s decision to ban the Rev Alan Clifford, of the Norwich Reformed Church, from a stall in Hayhill for publishing allegedly anti-Islamic leaflets.
Four arrests were made on the day, and three people were charged – two with using threatening words or behaviour and one with possession of an offensive weapon.