The Cost of Policing

The recent student protest in central London raised fears that the city would once again come under siege and that security would be threatened. After the violent scenes that accompanied a series of student protests this time last year and following the widespread riots in August, there was a heavy police presence with more than 4,000 officers on duty.

But unlike the previous student demonstrations, when an office block was invaded and thousands of pounds of damaged was caused to shops along Oxford Street, this year’s protest passed largely without incident.

The overwhelming majority of demonstrations are peaceful. But such events have to be policed adequately in order to protect not only the people involved but the surrounding community. Last year, the student protests cost Scotland Yard £7.5 million according to official figures. Another £2.1 million was spent on security for TUC anti-cuts protests in March this year and in total, £34.8 million was spent policing 42 major public order events between April 2010 and March 2011.

Unfortunately, there is always going to be a cost implication in providing enough officers to police public order situations. It would be negligent if the authorities didn’t plan a response to the small minority who may be intent on disruption and may not intend to be peaceful.

In order to help the police control large-scale public events the public can play a vital role in helping them keep order. CCTV has its benefits but they don’t prevent crime, and they are no substitute for getting information from people on the ground. Liaising with members of the community for information and support can be vital.

During any time of civil unrest, there can be a time delay between the outbreaks starting and when the Police take action. Members of the public can provide information which helps the authorities bring the situation control.

The same is true when dealing with private security companies. One of the key aspects of our job is to work in collaboration with the community. Taking this approach has proven successful for Magenta and is something that is at the forefront of our minds when working on guarding projects. It’s partnerships like this that makes sure that those intent on causing trouble are in the minority and can be dealt with appropriately.

Abbey Petkar

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