Cost of Balcombe anti-fracking policing soars to £2.3million

Fracking protest at Balcombe Sunday, August 18

Fracking protest at Balcombe Sunday, August 18

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The cost of policing the protests at Balcombe following the No Dash for Gas camp last weekend has now risen to £2.3m.

Nearly 1000 extra protesters arrived at the camp to take part in marches and a campaign of direct action around the Cuadrilla exploratory drilling site between Thursday, August 15 and Wednesday (August 21).

During that time, more than 30 people were arrested, 29 of them on Monday when a large number had to be removed from outside the entrance to the site. Since the protests began at the end of July, 80 people have been arrested.

Policing costs for the six days of the camp total £1.5m and this includes mutual aid provided by ten other forces.

Sussex police and crime commissioner, Katy Bourne, said: “It is important that taxpayers are kept updated on the ongoing costs of this policing operation.

“The increased involvement of national protest groups has meant that Sussex Police has had to deploy significant additional resources, including mutual aid from other police forces and this has put a strain on the police budget.

“Sussex Police is policing what I believe is a national issue. What happens in Sussex may determine what will happen nationally across police force areas in the future.

“I have now spoken and written to the Policing Minister confirming that I will be applying to the Home Office for funding to meet the additional costs of this policing operation, once the final figures are known. We anticipate that the final cost of this operation will be approximately £3.7m.

“I have been aware this would be a long-running operation and, while the Force has scaled back its resoures since Wednesday, they still expect to need a presence at the site for a number of weeks.

“My chief finance officer is already in discussion with the resourcing unit at the Home Office to determine what information they will need in order to facilitate our application.

“It is also my role as PCC to hold the chief constable to account on behalf of the public, so it is important that I address the issues and concerns raised by people during the policing of this protest. I will be holding an accountability meeting with the chief constable on Friday, September 6, which will be webcast live and will provide the public with an opportunity to have their questions answered.”