Policing Pope visit may cost £1.5m
The cost of policing the Pope's visit to Britain could reach £1.5 million, police chiefs have said.
South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, who is co-ordinating the unprecedented police operation that will see the Pontiff visit London, the West Midlands and Scotland, said the figure could rise further as changes were still being made to next week's four-day visit.
More than three-quarters of Britons do not agree that the taxpayer should help foot the bill for the visit, which could reach £20 million, including up to £12 million from taxpayers, but the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said it would be a "sad day" when the UK "closes its doors and says we can't afford state visits".
Mr Hughes said: "Quite frankly, we haven't estimated a total cost yet because plans change at the last minute.
"There will be changes to plans just through the hurly burly of running operations in London and Birmingham, two of our biggest cities."
No previous state visit has involved so many different sites around the country, dignitaries rarely "venture outside of London", and the Pope's visit will be both a civil and religious event, he said. Nobody wants "a giant security operation with a religious service bolted on the back", he said.
Speaking at a briefing held by the Association of Chief Police Officers in central London, he said that while officers would look after the "safety and dignity" of the Pope, they would also protect those wishing to see him and any protesters against his visit too.
Commander Bob Broadhurst, of the Metropolitan Police, who will be responsible for protecting the Pope, warned people not to underestimate the "passion and the fervour" that the visit would bring.
"People get very passionate and very, very emotional," he said. "We may at times be protecting the protesters from the faithful if one or two people get hot under the collar."
The police chiefs said they were planning for "tens of thousands" of people to be on the streets trying to catch a glimpse of the leader of 1.2 billion people worldwide, 17% of the world's population.