Police to stand down at Balcombe

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As Cuadrilla vacates the exploratory drilling site at Balcombe, Sussex Police is standing down its operation to police the two month protest activities.

The drilling company was expected to be clear of the site by Friday evening (September 27) and the policing presence is being scaled down to a minimum level for the next few days to ensure the safety of those remaining, who it is anticipated will now leave.

Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs said: “We will maintain a few officers in the area, mostly to ensure road safety as traffic returns to normal on this unrestricted, unlit road, but we don’t expect protesters to remain in the area now that the focus of their protest has departed.

“The operation has had a significant impact on the community and on Sussex Police and I should like to thank everyone who has remained supportive of our officers and their efforts to ensure that everyone was treated fairly and that they were able to carry out their lawful and legitimate activities in safety.

“We will now support our partners in the local authorities to ensure that things return to some degree of normality at Balcombe, although I acknowledge that the legacy of the operation will remain with the local community for a long time.

“If we are able to assist in any way then I would encourage people to talk to our officers in the area or contact the local neighbourhood police team if they have any concerns or issues that they would like us to address. If we can, we will.”

The final cost of the operation, which has seen 125 people arrested in 65 days, will take some weeks to calculate, but as of Thursday (September 26), the ongoing cost had reached £3.337m.

Mutual aid costs are up slightly to £1.822m. Accommodation, subsistence and vehicle costs account for £249,240 and supplies and services amount to £11,800.

Ordinary police officer overtime stands at £277,034, rest day working £806,688 and staff overtime and consequential divisional overtime totals £173,155.

Normal police salaries for officers working on the operation, not included in the total cost are £610,616.

The final overall cost, including normal police salaries, is estimated at around £4m.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, is applying to the Home Office for financial support to meet the additional cost of policing what she has described as ‘a national issue’.