PCC bemoans £300k cost of Britain First protest

Britain First march through Luton
Britain First march through Luton

Police and crime commissioner Olly Martins has blasted the ‘untenable’ costs of protests staged in Luton, after Saturday’s Britain First demonstration set the force back £300,000.

Around 200 far-right protesters attended the march, which 500 officers from across 15 different forces policed.

Over the last five years the cost of similar demonstrations has soared to around £3.5 million and although in the past the force has been financially supported by the government Mr Martins now expects the bill to fall “directly upon Bedfordshire taxpayers alone”.

In a letter to Home Secretary Theresa May, Mr Martins writes: “Bedfordshire Police is arguably the worst funded force in the country when taking account of the level of serious acquisitive crime, serious organised crime and the terror threat faced.

“It cannot therefore be right, in this time of austerity and police funding reductions, that a small force such as Bedfordshire and its local taxpayers must bear the burden of these extremist demonstrations.”

Mr Martins added his concerns over the impact protests have made on local traders.

He said: “The Mall shopping centre, Luton’s central retail area, recorded a reduction in footfall of approximately 22% (about 16,000 shoppers down) compared to that typically expected for this time of year.

“Following the last significant right-wing extremist demonstration in November 2014 The Mall reported a 27% reduction in footfall on the day (about 22,000 shoppers down) and a 23.1% reduction in car park entries.

“Their retailers reported lost trade in excess of £0.5million, which they estimate equates to £0.75million across Luton town centre as a whole.”