MPs say football clubs should pay more for policing

July 20, 2009 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

footballmatch

The Home Affairs Select Committee has proposed that a new independent body oversee the way in which football clubs are charged for policing at matches.

At present extra police officers are provided for the purposes of security at commercial events.

The event organiser must pay for this service at a price determined by the chief constable; if the cost is not met then the organiser can be denied a safety certificate and cannot hold the event.

In 2008, the Association of Chief Police Officers made a submission to the Home Office for its Green Paper on the future of policing.

In this submission it called for the introduction of “full-cost” policing.

Full-cost policing would extend the definition of special police services beyond the “footprint” of the event and include so-called “consequential policing”, that is policing which is provided beyond the event itself at train stations or town centres to deal with crowds arriving at and leaving a commercial event.

The inquiry investigated special police services by focusing on the cost of policing football matches, how this is calculated and how this cost is to be met.

Keith Vaz, Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, said:

“There is clearly a lack of understanding and communication between the police and football clubs on the issue of costs.

“It is clear that football clubs must pay for the costs of policing which directly relates to matches in their ‘footprint’, this should not be a burden on the taxpayer.

“However, we recognise the efforts of clubs to ensure that matches are safe and fully secure.

“This must be recognised by the police when they are planning matches and calculating costs.

“An outside body is needed to oversee this process and ensure fairness, one police officer should not be solely responsible.

“This should be a partnership not an opportunity for one body to extract unnecessary payments or benefits from another.

“It is a very complicated and grey area exactly which costs to the wider community, in town centres and on transport, can be said to directly arise from a match.

“If a satisfactory arrangement cannot be come to between the police and clubs the Home Office may have to step in and provide some legal clarity.”

Football clubs are currently only legally obliged to pay for the policing on their “footprint”, usually inside the stadium and surrounding car parks; the provision of “consequential policing” outside a football match is currently the responsibility of the police and is provided at their discretion and at a cost to them.

Clubs do not have to pay for this “extra” service.

This has led to a disparity between what the police estimate the total cost of policing a football match to be, and what the clubs currently pay.

In the season 2007-08 it is estimated that the policing of 13 Premier League football clubs cost the police £3.2 million in consequential policing.

This disparity is the result of current case law and Home Office guidance over the charging for the policing of football matches; the result is that “some forces recovered less than half, some as much as two thirds of the costs of policing football”.

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