Police boss: Force should not foot security bill
WEST Midlands police will have to pay £430,000 towards the cost of hosting this year’s Conservative Party Conference, according to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
David Jamieson said that while the force welcomed the economic benefits next week’s conference would bring to the city, the police should not be forced to foot the bill.
Birmingham has hosted the event three times over the past five years at an estimated cost of £1.5 million, the PCC’s office said.
While the government still pays the majority of the nearly £2 million in security costs for host- ing the event, West Midlands Police are not reimbursed for the cost of planning security. This year 13 full time officers and staff were part of the planning team for the conference, with further staff and officers working part time on the operation. Mr Jamieson is planning to write to Home Secretary Sajid Javid about the issue. “I welcome political parties bringing their conferences to the West Midlands as they provide an important boost to the economy,” he said. “I want to see more conferences, not fewer. And the safety of people attending con- ferences and the region will always be of the highest priority. Policing across the region will continue as normal despite extra resources being allocated to the conference. The policing taking place during the conference will be paid for but one crucial element will not.
“These events don’t simply happen. Ensuring their security requires detailed expert planning over a long period.
“The team from West Midlands Police began work for this year’s conference several months ago and it is costing £430,000. That’s £430,000 the Home Office will not pay for.
“The force is due to host the conference again in 2020, by which point unpaid planning costs may hit £2 million.
“I am becoming increasingly frustrated that West Midlands Police is not paid the full amount it costs to keep people safe. It was revealed last week that we’ve been hit the second hardest in the whole country by the cuts and now we’re being hit again. It’s just not fair.”
Meanwhile, police have warned motorists to expect more disruption during the four days of the conference.
Birmingham’s International Convention Centre will host the event from Sunday until Wednesday, October 3.
Drivers have already been frustrated by diversions around the Paradise Circus redevelopment.
Conference tents have been erected on part of the partially completed Centenary Square which is undergoing redevelopment.
> Prime Minister Theresa May at the 2016 conference