Kent

Home Secretary 'will not pay Operation Stack police costs'

Operation Stack Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Operation Stack sees lorries parking on the M20 during cross-Channel disruption

The Home Secretary has refused to reimburse Kent Police for additional costs of Operation Stack, the county's police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.

Ann Barnes said she was surprised and disappointed that Theresa May had refused to pay for "reasonable, additional costs" of nearly £577,000.

The government said police budgets should include plans for contingencies.

Under Stack lorries park on the M20 during cross-Channel disruption.

Stack was used 32 times last summer following strikes by French ferry workers, migrant activity and disruption to cross-Channel rail operations.

'Under strain'

Mrs Barnes said a request was submitted to policing minister Mike Penning on 17 November under the Home Office special grant process.

She said the sum of £576,925.59 was applied for but was turned down after the Home Secretary refused to use discretionary powers to cover the costs.

"Operation Stack is acknowledged as a national problem now, and yet policing services in Kent have been put under strain to deal with it," Mrs Barnes said.

"Local taxpayers should not have to pick up the bill."

She said she needed to discuss the way forward with the Home Office as a matter of urgency.

But Mr Penning said: "Police forces should include within their policing and budget plans reasonable contingencies for unexpected events in their areas.

"Special Grant funding is usually only available when the additional costs are more than 1% of the PCC's budget, or where the additional costs might threaten the financial stability of the force.

"At 31 March 2015, the Kent PCC had £34.4m in resource reserves, which increased by more than 10% last year."

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