Northern Ireland

Protest and riot policing costs PSNI over £3m a month

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Media captionThe bill includes £300,000 a week to police a loyalist protest in north Belfast every night since 12 July

More than £28m has been spent policing contentious parades and protests in Northern Ireland since December.

The bill includes £300,000 a week to police a loyalist protest in north Belfast every night since an Orange Order parade was stopped on 12 July.

Violence erupted then as police were attacked after they stopped marchers walking on a stretch of road separating loyalist and nationalist communities.

The bill for what police call "abnormal policing" has been over £3m a month.

The PSNI said it has to deploy large scale resources every night as a precaution, in case loyalists try to walk along the stretch of road past Ardoyne shops or in case rival factions clash.

About 200 people protested on the streets at Twaddell Avenue on Tuesday night, just across the road from the shops.

Impact

There has also been a large policing operation in the area because of the protests.

In addition to the usual number of neighbourhood officers, the PSNI has deployed 25 specialist public order units, which is about 150 officers every night.

The PSNI have said the cost is not just financial.

Half of the additional officers deployed are part of what are called Level Two units, they are officers taken off their normal duties, like investigating crime.

Earlier this year, senior police officers, politicians and community representatives went to Cardiff for two days of talks and afterwards announced an agreement they said could reduce the potential for violence on the streets.

The group met again in Belfast on Wednesday to discuss what has happened since and how the police have responded.

The spiralling cost of policing parades and protests, and the impact it is having on PSNI resources, will be discussed when the chief constable meets the policing board on Thursday.

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