Student action is stretching police

Reporter: Richard Hooton
Date published: 21 December 2010

STUDENT protests against tuition fee rises have had a significant impact on police resources, complains Greater Manchester’s police chief.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy said the daily bill for policing such events was about £100,000 — and means officers are not chasing burglars instead.

He said: “Over the last month Greater Manchester Police has facilitated a number of high-profile student protests across the force area, all of which have had a significant impact on our resources.

“In the main they have been peaceful and we have seen none of the violent scenes that have marred events elsewhere, particularly in London. We have had good co-operation from the students and the universities.

“I want to stress however that if these types of protests are going to become more common there is an impact on local policing.

“We have a clear duty to police these peaceful protests, while ensuring minimum disruption to residents, businesses and shoppers. Each day of protest has cost the force and of course the public around £100,000, but most of this has been paid for in normal duty time by taking officers away from their local policing duties.

“This also requires substantial levels of policing and specialist resources from a host of other agencies and organisations.

“These events have a major draw on our resources, and the ability of GMP to plan and resource these events, often at very short notice, is a testament to the professionalism and commitment of our staff.

“This clearly has a knock-on effect for the rest of the force in terms of dealing with other incidents and regular policing of communities. To put it bluntly officers policing protests are not chasing burglars.

“At the same time we will continue to review our policing arrangements and seek the co-operation of those organising protests to keep costs down.

“It is unfortunate that some protesters feel they will only get attention to their cause if they take some form of direct action which then generates publicity. Sadly some protests organised in good faith are then infiltrated by outsiders.

“These are national issues affecting many people, and we fully understand the wishes of those wanting to voice their feelings.

“However, I want the people of Greater Manchester to be aware that there is an inevitable impact on the force and this shows again that modern policing is not purely about catching criminals.”