Reports from local residents suggested a massive police presence with large numbers of police officers, vans, a FIT team from London and even a helicopter. Curious about the cost of such an operation, a friend submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to Nottinghamshire Police to find out exactly that. The actual questions submitted to the police were "(1) on what basis it was decided that such a large police presence was necessary; and (2) what the approximate cost of policing this event was." The response (attached in full - albeit with the author's contact details removed for obvious reasons - as a pdf) makes for interesting reading.
The demonstration against a BNP meeting addressed by Nick Griffin in Kimberley last year, when protesters successfully prevented party members from entering the venue, had clearly left the police reeling. In their justification of the overwhelming police presence they state: "A previous event organised at Kimberley by the same person, Cllr Graham, involved public disorder, a risk of harm to the public. Despite the presence of over 20 police officers the police were unable to prevent disruption to the meeting and were unable to take effective action against disorderly protestors without increasing the risk of harm to all involved."
Threats against anti-fascist leafletters in Brinsley also factored into their considerations, albeit interpreted in a rather skewed fashion as "further incidents of tension between far left and far right activists". Taken together, the police saw these incidents as evidence that the "possibility of protest and disorder was real and a threat and risk assessment of the event took place" with "the safety of all concerned," of course, being uppermost in their considerations when deciding on tactics.
In response to the second question regarding the cost of the event, the police claim that they are "unable to provide accurate costs at this time," but do offer some estimates of the manpower costs. These suggest that 12 officers spent a combined total of 114 hours planning policing for the event. On the day itself, 57 officers were deployed for a total of 464 hours, with a further 25 in reserve (which means they were unavailable for other duties) for 200 hours. This totals up to 778 hours, equivalent to 97.25 police (based on 8 hour days). The police calculate the costs of manpower on this basis as at £12,000 given the average rate for a police constable.
This is described as "a conservative estimate of costs". The police stress that the figure "does not include the time or cost for errection (sic.) of fencing for the venue or work undertaken by the highways department to consider potential diversions should road closures be required etc." It might also be pointed out that it takes no account of equipment costs, fuel etc.
The police are keen to stress however that the costs of policing the event were exacerbated by the limited warning they received. They assert that "following the disorder at Kimberley Nottinghamshire Police informed organisers of the event that there had been insufficient notice of the meeting to allow for appropriate policing plans without significant disruption to the normal services provided to the public, and that in future we would expect at least 4 weeks notice to minimise cost and disruption." Despite their obsession with "law and order" the organisers were apparently happy to dismiss this advice out of hand.
"Nottinghamshire Police were not given such notice by those organising the Brinsley meeting. As a result Nottinghamshire Police approached the organisers and members of Brinkley Parish council and asked that the meeting be rearranged so as to allow for appropriate planning and a reduction on the impact on policing across Nottinghamshire. Cllr Graham and members of the council made a decision not to cancel or rearrange the meeting." Why they made such a decision isn't elaborated upon. Were they simply being stubborn or where they concerned that word of their little shindig might get out and catch the attention of undesirable elemnts?
It is clear from their response that Nottinghamshire Police are very concerned about the risk of disorder, certainly far more concerned about it than they are of the threat posed by fascist organisations. They are content to spend vast sums of money policing events organised by the BNP or their new faction to ensure that all passes off smoothly. Something to bear in mind as plans take shape for a mobilisation against the BNP's Red White and Blue festival, likely to be held just over the border in Derbyshire sometime in August.
Local Anti-Fascists Condemn British National Party “Mark II”
Possible BNP Meeting in Brinsley
BNP threaten anti-fascist leafletters in Brinsley
Anti-fascists successfully blockade BNP meeting venue
Information and encouragement to use the Freedom of Information Act 2000
Stop the BNP's Red White and Blue Festival