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Festival declines policing cost bill

Thursday 12 October 2017

Festival declines policing cost bill

Pictured: A sunny afternoon outside the main stage at Jersey Live 2010. (Photo: Hannah Voak)

It's emerged the organisers of one of Jersey main events were asked to pay £20,000 to cover the cost of policing it, but turned down the "request."

The figures have been released following a request under the Freedom of Information Law, and look set to reignite the debate over how much local events should pay to the Police who are there to keep islanders safe.

The newly released official information says that In the case of Jersey Live in 2016, 62 officers were required over the weekend, 31 on each day, making the cost a total of £27,280.

The year before, a total of 70 officers were present on the site, incurring a cost of £30,800 which the organisers of the music festival were asked to contribute £20,000 towards - but the request was denied.

However, one of the organisers, Warren Le Sueur, alleged that the bill they were presented in 2015 was not for the festival that had just taken place, but rather a retrospective bill from 2009 to 2015, and it was turned down as it was judged to be neither fair or transparent.

The current legislation does not require police services, including the policing of events, to be paid for. However, a new system has been agreed by the States and is currently with the Privy Council, awaiting Royal Assent.

Once introduced, the new regulation will allow the Chief Officer to charge for police services in accordance with guidelines issued by the Minister. All events will be assessed individually and depending on whether they run solely for profit or not, will be charged accordingly. 

According to the new FOI response: "The full economic cost for a uniformed constable is currently £55 per hour. Rates charged would be higher if overtime was involved and for officers in higher ranks as part of any necessary command structure."

Jersey live

Pictured: Jersey Live had its last hurrah in September 2016. 

Mr Le Sueur told Express: "We always had a good relationship and good communication with the police, for that we are thankful. Paying for policing costs wasn't set in law the the time. The bill came as a surprise and we politely declined for many reasons. The main one was that we felt it was certainly unfair and unjust due to the fact that we were unaware of others being charged. We wanted to know whether a request had been made for any other large events or if we had been singled out. We wanted some parity and transparency across all events but never receive any information."

He also said that Jersey Live invested 'heavily' in safety with £50,000 spent on security management and another £10,000 on event management: "We had lots of things in place to make sure the site was safe and fit for purpose and to be able to meet the needs of whatever situation. We had 100 of security members from the UK and another 30 local ones. We also went beyond the basics and had the Youth Service, an Adult Care Centre and St John's Ambulance on site. We were much more professional than other events."

Jersey Live wasn't the only one not to contribute towards its policing costs according to the new figures. 

In 2016, the International Air Display, which required the presence of eight officers for a total cost of £3,520, wasn't asked to make any contribution.

The new law is intended to help the Police recover those costs but Mr Le Sueur  says it won't work unless there is an open assessment for what constitutes an event. He said: "Should a charity really be given grace towards the costs while money is raised at the event? Should we look into at how much money raised at the event actually goes to the charity? Those questions need to be looked at rather than being ignored. Not all events have been spoken to before the proposition was brought forwards. It shows it wasn't transparent and it seems all was done behind closed doors. Whatever is proposed, everyone affected should be consulted on."


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