St. Saviour’s Honorary Police were asked to more than double their presence at the Film Festival just days before it was due to go ahead, the parish's Chef de Police has revealed following the event’s sudden and unexpected cancellation.
Yesterday, organiser Deputy Kevin Lewis said that the charity event at Howard Davis Park, which this year was due to celebrate its 25th anniversary, would no longer be taking place due to difficulties securing a permit from the Bailiff’s Entertainment Advisory Panel.
This, he told Express, was because there were “not enough Police to go around”, causing a health and safety issue.
“Because we’re now a larger event we need many more Police on duty which are not available because there’s so many events on at the same time that there’s not enough Honorary Police and so sadly we’ve had to cancel,” he said.
But now Centenier Steven Laffoley-Edwards, head of the St. Saviour force, has strongly objected to the comments made by the Deputy.
Commenting on Express's story, he said that his team have “always been supportive” of the event, “historically providing two officers to attend each film.”
This year, however, he claimed the Deputy had changed the number needed at very short notice.
“24 hours before the cancellation we were asked to increase the Honorary presence to five officers per night. This was insufficient notice to engage with our volunteer Honorary Police, and those of other parishes, to meet this new requirement and we object to the statement that it is due to the Honorary Police that these events have been cancelled,” he said.
Speaking to Express this morning, Deputy Lewis defended his last-minute request, stating that it came in response to issues raised by the Entertainment Advisory Panel only this week.
Following concerns about the numbers of islanders that would flow out into the road following the event and "mix with traffic", the Deputy said that he had been asked to increase the event's security and policing presence.
In response, he said that he had increased security inside the event, but that the panel didn't deem this sufficient as they had "no authority outside".
Pictured: Deputy Lewis defended his last-minute request, stating that it was because the Entertainment Advisory Panel requested the presence of "at least five" Police officers outside Howard Davis Park only this week.
According to the Deputy, the panel then told him this week that "at least five" Police or Honorary Police officers would be needed to supervise the area outside the park.
"We've never had to do this before. We operated under a Bailiff's permit, but the event has grown... It can be 7,000 people on a busy night."
He added that the operational plan for the event will now need to be changed.
"We'll have to rethink everything for next year... I want to keep it a free event, I don't want it to turn into a business," Deputy Lewis explained, stressing that the event "has always been informal" and that "we've never had any trouble whatsoever."
"But that's the way of the world now with health and safety," he said.
A spokesperson for the Entertainment Advisory Panel commented: "The Public Entertainment Panel appreciates the difficult decision Mr Lewis took to cancel the film festival, however believes it was appropriate decision when considering public safety."
Express has contacted the States of Jersey Police for comment, and is awaiting a response.
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