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Rent-A-Cop: PSNI draws up price list for supplying officers to police major events

By Rebecca Black

Published 22/09/2015

Superintendent Nigel Goddard
Superintendent Nigel Goddard

The PSNI has introduced a price list for policing major events in Northern Ireland.

The force can potentially charge organisers thousands of pounds for providing policing services for major events which might have a public order element.

These might include large concerts or sporting events.

The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that to hire the services of a Chief Superintendent for an hour costs almost £100, with a sliding scale for officers down to Part Time Reserve Officers who cost just £16.92 each per hour.

Current case law dictates that special policing charges can only be applied for events on privately-owned land.

The PSNI has now written to all councils here and met a number of sporting organisations to make them aware of their new hourly rates. The hourly rates for officers include:

  • Chief Superintendent: £99.18
  • Superintendent: £87.66
  • Chief Inspector: £67.93
  • Inspector: £63.52
  • Sergeant: £51.09
  • Constable: £43.36
  • Part Time Reserve Officer: £16.92.

The policy of charging for police services at commercial events is common practice in police forces throughout the UK. However, only purely commercial events are charged the full amount.

Any event regarded as normal policing responsibilities, such as the Christmas lights switch-on and the Belfast Marathon, is paid for out of the PSNI budget.

Non-commercial events undergo a scoring process to determine what level of charge, if any, they should pay, and Northern Ireland Executive-sponsored events are classified to determine what level of charge they should pay.

Events regarded as a constitutional right, such as parades or protests, are paid from the current police budget.

The cost of policing major spectator events can spiral to millions. In 2013, Chief Constable Matt Baggott revealed it had cost over £50m to police the G8 Summit in Fermanagh.

The cost of policing the loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in north Belfast, has been put at £330,000 a month.

One of the most recent events for which promoters had to pay for policing, was Tennents Vital. Organisers of the two-day annual music event did not wish to comment when contacted by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday. Around 70,000 people saw The Script, Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding among the headline acts.

A Belfast City Council committee heard a presentation from Superintendent Nigel Goddard about the policy. He said Chief Constable George Hamilton ordered it after a number of media enquiries about the cost of policing at events, explaining that Mr Hamilton wanted to "ensure there is a consistent approach to cost recovery by police across Northern Ireland". Supt Goddard said the policy was aimed as facilitating a "transparent, open and visible approach to charging for both providers and receivers of special police services".

Superintendent Goddard stressed in a statement to the Belfast Telegraph that the policy does not "set out to make profit for policing".

"We would like to assure all event organisers that there is no change in the policy and procedures applied for providing special policing services, merely that we have now developed and tailored a document which clearly states the methodologies and charges which can be applied in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The policy does not set out to make profit for policing, merely to recover the costs of providing what the law has defined as 'Special Policing Services'. We have written to all councils across Northern Ireland to inform them of the new service procedure and met with a number of sporting organisations.

"We are also working alongside the Northern Ireland Policing Board, who will be reviewing the implementation of the policy after the first full year of operation, and are planning a number of briefing sessions for event organisers in the coming months."

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