Belfast Telegraph

Costs of policing the chaos look set to spiral

By Noel McAdam

Costs of policing the flags protests — now into their seventh week — may prove higher than first calculated, it has emerged.

Detailed figures on Monday showed the total cost for the first fortnight alone has been put at almost £4m.

Earlier estimates, which the PSNI has yet to confirm, had put the total cost so far at around £7m.

Justice Minister David Ford revealed on Monday: “The police have informed me that the total cost for the period December 3 to December 17 has been calculated as £3.8m.

“While some of that cost involved redirecting officers from otherwise important work to deal with the disorder, a significant part of it was from the need for additional police resources.”

In response to a series of written Assembly questions, the Alliance Party leader also dealt with what he called the “human cost” of the protests.

“The PSNI have confirmed that, as of January 15, 115 individuals have been arrested and, of those, 85 have been charged,” he said.

With Tuesday night’s arrests, that number will now reach 126 arrests.

Mr Ford said the special court sittings over the weekend of January 5-6, in which 18 people were remanded in custody, had sent a clear message “that those who choose to become involved in such situations can and will be made to face the consequences of their actions”.

Paying tribute to the bravery shown by police in often “dangerous, difficult and challenging” circumstances, Mr Ford said: “There is now a challenge for us all to work together to find a solution... and ensure that the scenes of disorder which have taken place since December 3 are never repeated.”

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