Barton Moss: Government 'must pay anti-fracking demo bill'

Fracking protest Barton Moss
Image caption Sixty officers a day are needed to police the protest

The Government has been urged to pay the estimated £750,000 cost of policing anti-fracking demonstrations in Greater Manchester.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd is writing to the Home Office arguing that the protests put an extra burden on the force.

About 60 officers a day are needed to police demonstrations over exploratory drilling at Barton Moss, in Salford.

IGas's operation, which began in November, is expected to end in April.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has said the policing operation has cost £330,000 so far and it expects this will rise to £750,000.

The force said although it normally used 60 officers a day to police the protest, on some occasions this rose to 150.

Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "Policing protests is always a challenge, and in the case of Barton Moss it is incredibly expensive. So far this operation has cost GMP £330,000.

"This comes from the general police budget which could be better spent on local policing."

Fracking costs

Mr Battle also said: "Given that ministers have made fracking a priority for the coming years, we believe central government should now foot the bill for the policing of the inevitable protests."

GMP is arguing that a only a quarter of more than 60 people arrested so far are from Greater Manchester, while others have come from places such as Kent, Bristol, Somerset, Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Southsea and Sussex.

Sussex Constabulary is preparing to make an application to recoup some of the £4m it spent on policing the anti-fracking protests in Balcombe.

A Home Office spokeswoman there was provision for forces to apply for funding if they had spent more than 1% on a policing operation.

She added that ministers also had discretionary power to waive the 1% figure.

GMP could cut up to 700 of its 6,900 police officers to save an estimated £66m from its budget over a three-year period from 2014-15.

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