Policing student fee protests cost over £7m

A demonstrator protesting against tuition fees kicks the windows of Millbank Tower, in Westminster: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
A demonstrator protesting against tuition fees kicks the windows of Millbank Tower, in Westminster: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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Policing the student fees protests in London has cost Scotland Yard £7.5m, official accounts show.

The Metropolitan Police spent another £2.1m providing security at the TUC anti-cuts demonstration in March, £1.9m on the Pope’s visit to Britain, and £2.2m around last year’s general election campaign.

A further £6.5m has gone on protecting North African and Middle Eastern countries’ embassies in London this year amid heightened tensions linked to the popular uprisings in the region known as the Arab Spring.

Scotland Yard spent a total of £34.8m policing 42 major public order events between April 2010 and March 2011, figures disclosed to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) reveal.

Together these operations took up 87,676 police officer shifts and 3,305 shifts of support staff, including police community support officers, caterers, drivers and engineers.

The biggest bill for policing the series of student demonstrations against university tuition fee hikes and education funding cuts was for the protest on December 9, when an angry mob attacked the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s car as they drove to the Royal Variety Performance.

Providing security that day cost the Met £1.3m, including £545,000 in overtime and extra staff allowances, and required 2,476 police officer shifts. Another three student protests in London – on November 30, December 13 and December 14 – also cost Scotland Yard more than £1m each.

The TUC’s march and rally against Government spending cuts on March 26, whose attendance was put by organisers at 500,000, required 4,831 police officer shifts and resulted in an overtime bill of £440,000.

The Met said in a report to the MPA: “The event was attended by several other organisations and certain elements that were intent on causing disorder.

“The response required a lengthy policing operation resulting in associated overtime payments.”

The policing operation for the Popes time in London during his four-day trip to Britain last September involved 4,712 police officer shifts and resulted in a £300,000 overtime bill.

Deploying officers to cover demonstrations outside the UK embassies of countries caught up in the Arab Spring unrest cost £6.5m between February and May this year.