Forums > Social Discussion > Police proposal to charge for policing community events

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LazyAngel
LazyAngel

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Location: Cambridge UK
Member Since: 29th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2895
Posted:Recently, Cambridge police announced their intention to start charging for policing community events:

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_cambridge/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=398642
br>(please vote on the poll there)

The key part of the proposal is this:

'From now on, events held in 2009/10 that have been running for three years or more will pay one third of the cost. For 2010/11, events in their fourth or more years will be charged two-thirds of the cost.

In the third year the organisers will have to pay the full cost of policing.'

Now, we already pay council tax, which allegedly entitles us to police protection wherever we are in Cambridge. On these grounds alone, free community events should not have to pay for their policing - you might as well ask for pubs and clubs to pay a toll for every friday night.

Additionally, cultural events and institutions have been clearly demonstrated to bring income to the area, helping to pay for the taxes that in turn pay for the police. This is especially true for a town like Cambridge that has a healthy tourism based economy. By reducing the number of events (and I KNOW some of these events will not be able to run if they have to pay policing costs), there will be an impact on the economy of the town as a whole.

Thirdly, the whole prospect of charging for policing seems a grey area - how do you assess the required amount of policing? what's to stop the police deciding on a ridiculous level of police prescence that cripples an event?

To me, this is indicative of the short term, money grabbing ideas we've seen in the past that show little concern for the future, being more concerned with the immediate 'quick buck': and look where that got us!


anybody interested in the police approach to income generation can find details here http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/finance-and-business-planning/income_generation.pdf
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in case you're wondering who is allegedly responsible for monitoring the police, it's HMIC: http://inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/


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natasqi
natasqi

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Location: Perth
Member Since: 4th Jul 2007
Total posts: 489
Posted:This issue has just come upin Perth, Australia as well.

I think I agree with it. At least for big music concerts etc.

Police are suppose to stop crime, and I think I'd rather their presence in the streets stopping robberies and car thefts or on the road to decrease speeding or things.

Events should have security guards to decrease the anti-social behaviour who should be able to cuff/tag someone and lead them over to the exit and chuck them out... or if they were caught committing a crime and should be charged, then taken over to a holding area to wait for the police.

I don't think police should just be wandering around music events.

I don't think community events, i.e. during the day fairs and such require such a large security presence.. shouldn't two people walking around be fine? What happens at these fairs?

However if you have an event which encourages drinking and therefore there's going to be a lot of antisocial behaviour then yes, you should pay for your own security!


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LazyAngel
LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK
Member Since: 29th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2895
Posted:follow up article: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=399443
br>
natasqi: I wouldn't mind so much with events which are actually making a profit, but the idea of charging for free community events, especially those focussed around the arts, I think is wrong.

I'm probably not very objective over this since it threatens to end Strawberry Fair, a free one day festival in Cambridge which I've been involved (running a circus skills area) with the last couple of years and which has been going on since 1974 - see http://www.strawberry-fair.org.uk/
br>
We also have a number of smaller events in Cambridge - charity carnivals, local fairs, fetes and parades, all of which require some police prescence, but are run on a shoestring budget.

Having community events which develop awareness of whats going on in your neighbourhood and give a chance for participation to people from all backgrounds is, IMHO, an opportunity for establishing a sense of community and discouraging people from anti-social behaviour.

I wonder if you could define an 'event which encourages drinking'? beer festival/music festival/parade?

With a free, open to all, community event, I don't really see the difference between 'paying for your own security' and paying council tax - Unless you're proposing that the event starts charging people to enter on the grounds that - they're paying for the security required - that would be the fairest way to do it.

However, it would then not be a free, open to all, community event.


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Mr Majestik
Mr Majestik

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Location: home of the tiney toothy bear
Member Since: 9th Mar 2004
Total posts: 4693
Posted:i agree, there has to be some consideration as to what is a "community" event and what is a business venture. those that are more business orientated sush as music festivals that sell tickets and try to profit it may be reasonable for them to boost their own security services, or pay at least a gesture of money.

the problem would be how do you cost the services the police provide? would you enclude traffic management that is not on the site of the actual festival but in the kilometers around it? how far from the festival would traffic handling be paid for by the festival? likewise if a crime such as an assault occurs, how is the police going to a festival to respond so different from an assault in a private dwelling? if crime is committed its the obligation of the police to investigate it, as such even if they were not being paid to attend a festival they would probably still have to go to investigate a crime....

over all i think its just too convoluted. the police are paid from taxes that all businesses and citzens pay, and as such it is their job to work for all the community, not expect some members to pay and others not to pay.


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natasqi
natasqi

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Location: Perth
Member Since: 4th Jul 2007
Total posts: 489
Posted:Why do these free community events need policing?



Yes, I was talking about more music events etc. By "promoting drinking" I was talking about those with huge 18+ areas.


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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:I'm not sure how it is in Australia, or even other places around the US, all I can speak of is local, but I'll do my best to explain..

It's not unreasonable for the police dept to want payment for extra security at an event. Any large congregation of people will draw criminals. Drugs will almost always be a problem, throw in alcohol and there's a whole other side to it. Sheriff office's and police departments walk a fine line in how many people they have. Too many cops around and the public gets ancy, and feel attacked, lets face it, most people don't like cops, they only interact with them during the low points of their lives. Not enough and they feel they aren't being "served and protected" properly. There is a very delicate balance that is maintained for the daily events of the community.

When you bring an even along that brings a massive influx of people, that balance is disturbed, and the police are at the disadvantage. There are three possible responses to that A: Do nothing, and hope the people are all nice to each other. B: Pull officers off their normal patrols to work security, leaving the rest of the community short staffed for the duration. or C: Bring in off duty cops, or reserves to work security. C is the ideal answer. Asking full time cops to work for free out of the kindness of their heart is asking a *lot* and it probably wont get you very far. Reserves are generally volunteer, however they're usually not as experienced, and depending on where you are may not have full law enforcement powers.

The taxes that you talk about Majestik pay for the number of cops needed to maintain that balance. Anything that throws that number off needs to come from somewhere, I don't think it's unreasonable at all to ask from at least some compensation. There's far more to it than just manhours.


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Ade
Are we there yet?
Location: australia
Member Since: 14th Mar 2001
Total posts: 1897
Posted:for the most part I agree with you Lurch eek

I think the proposal is to charge community events for the policing of the event. I make the assumption that cops wouldn't be asked to volunteer their time for free, and that they would be rostered to work the event as per their police roster and be paid according to their industrial instrument.

In NSW police do patrol a lot of events already, and I agree with your comments about the proportion of cops to the public = anxiety or a state of relaxtion

I suspect that events already make a contribution to the policing of events, in NSW anyway...

ubbrollsmile


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jojodijojo
stranger

Member Since: 19th Mar 2009
Total posts: 13
Posted:That sets up some really lovely ideas about the future of political protests and the like... which could easily be shoehorned into the heading of 'community event' frown
EDITED_BY: jojodijojo (1237893894)


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LazyAngel
LazyAngel

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Location: Cambridge UK
Member Since: 29th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2895
Posted:I'd like to just clearly define community events: the point being that these are events organised by volunteers, for the local community. I've nothing against commercial events paying for their policing.

In my view, paying taxes entitles us to police protection not of people on a personal level, but of the community as a whole. If you have a community event, the community who paid their taxes to attend are in attendance - I don't see why it should be an additional supplement to police income - particularly since in Cambridge we have a history of holding such events each year.

Furthermore, fostering a sense of community through local events, is in my opinion, one of the best long term solutions to police costs.

natasqi: the big one in Cambridge 'Strawberry Fair' is a pretty large, attracting people from nearby towns and the like - here are a few details:

Strawberry Fair is the regions largest voluntary arts organisation, requiring over 15,000 volunteer hours annually - and over 1,200 people get involved on the day. The event is organised entirely by volunteers, has no commercial sponsors, receives no public grants and is completely free to attend. As the largest community event in the region, it demonstrates many of the community and cultural assets that will be be jeopardised right across the county.
As well as the main event, there is a thriving community culture associated with the Strawberry Fair. Over 40 benefit gigs happen every year and a policy that 90% of acts must be from Cambrideshire guarantees that the event is the biggest performance opportunity in the region for hundreds of local artists, film-makers, entertainers and musicians.
The event is recognised as one of the best ways of learning and developing the practical skills needed for a career in event management and the arts. Many people involved with Strawberry Fair have gone on to successful careers in the arts or to establish community events elsewhere.


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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:I don't know numbers or locations, so I'm just speaking hypothetically, but if you have an event in a small city, that doubles the population of that city, there *needs* to be a larger law enforcement presence. *Beyond* what the city taxes pay for. If people are coming from outside the community, they aren't paying the taxes for those police are they?

For instance, the local county fairgrounds have it written into their contract that rental fees for the grounds include money specific to pay the Sheriff's office to supply a security detail, the rest of the county continues to maintain an appropriate presence, and the population increase is covered by the overtime/reserve deputies that come in to work security.


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LazyAngel
LazyAngel

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Cambridge UK
Member Since: 29th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2895
Posted:Originally Posted By: LurchI don't know numbers or locations, so I'm just speaking hypothetically, but if you have an event in a small city, that doubles the population of that city, there *needs* to be a larger law enforcement presence. *Beyond* what the city taxes pay for. If people are coming from outside the community, they aren't paying the taxes for those police are they?


i guess that depends on your perspective -

if you see your taxes as *only* going to the local community then I guess that's true

if you see your taxes as contributing towards the country as a whole then I guess it's not true

the fairground example is fair enough, but again, it's not the type of event I'm talking about: A fairground is run for profit, community events are run to benefit the community as a whole and do not make a profit.

the point is that these events are being run for the community's benefit, and IMHO, ultimately have long term benefits for the police, as the one day of extra work stands to decrease the burden in the longer term.

If the police start charging for these events there are further implications :

1) as the community events themselves will likely suffer a huge decrease in numbers, the lack of community spirit increases the police workload over time, leading to increased taxes or overstretching of resources

2) the charging for community events opens the door to further charges by the police: charging demonstrators for demonstrating or pub landlords for serving drinks

3) the police become little more than another security company for hire


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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:Well I don't know how it is over there, but generally speaking the local city police are paid for by the city, the county sheriff is paid for by the county.. which mean the city and county taxes pay for that, not federal taxes.

The other question is whether or not these events are *asking* for some sort of extra police presence, or if the people attending are causing crime.


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natasqi
natasqi

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Location: Perth
Member Since: 4th Jul 2007
Total posts: 489
Posted:If taxes are meant to pay for it.. then taxes will have to be increased for EVERYONE.

Maybe these events should not be free then... 2? $5?

User pays system...


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LazyAngel
LazyAngel

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Location: Cambridge UK
Member Since: 29th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2895
Posted:Lurch: the way I see it: everybody pays their taxes for police protection: now just because I live in Cambridge and go to visit London doesn't mean I wouldn't expect the police to look after me if I was mugged there, just as I wouldn't expect the police to ignore me if I was a Londoner in Cambridge.

Every city has these events to a greater or lesser degree that are attended by people from other cities - even if they happen to be unaware of the event and stumble across it while visiting. Additionally, urely the effect is balanced out across the country by people moving from one place to another?

As far as community events go, they are investment in 'social capital' ie building links in the community that lead to better behaviour: what's a mystery to me in the case of cambridge is that the police have managed to deal with this for years without charging, have just had an increase in tax contributions and are STILL asking for more money. Possibly the credit crunch?

Nat: The problem with making events ticketed is that you immediately

a) introduce further costs through trying to ensure people have tickets to enter the event, meaning increased security, expenses on wristbands, fencing, etc.

b) it immediately becomes an exclusive rather than inclusive event, as only those with wristbands/tickets are permitted to attend, totally scotching the point of having a 'community' event

c) as stated above, these events have been dealt with by the police for free for years - in general it's not a new idea, it's something pre-existing that the police have suddenly decided to start charging for.

d)There are also some issues with the way the money is spent: At last Strawberry Fair a helicopter was deployed for the day at greast cost and little visible benefit (if you have data that will prove helicopters are necessary for the event please set me straight on this)


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Lurch
Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon
Member Since: 1st Nov 2003
Total posts: 929
Posted:I know where you're coming from LA, but I don't think you're looking at it as a whole.

The size of a police department is *designed* based on the population of it's district. If the population increases, theoretically the number of officers should increase as well. You could call an 'average' around 1 cop to every 500 civilians. That is 1 cop, on patrol, to every 500 civilians living a happy everyday life at their house. Not 1 cop to 500 civilians all crammed into a confined city park.

If you have a relatively small city, and you double their population for your event, you should at *least* double the police force. There is a HUGE difference between a static population, and a mass gathering of those same people.

Any events like that force the police to compensate. They don't really have a choice *not* to. And all those events force them to take a loss. Maybe the loss is finally growing to be too much, and causing them to have to let go other important things. Like cutting back on training..


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LazyAngel
LazyAngel

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Location: Cambridge UK
Member Since: 29th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2895
Posted:Hi Lurch sorry about the long silence, but I decided I'd better not get caught up in this discussion while working on my dissertation. Anyways..

Sorry, but I disagree with you on the missing the bigger picture thing - obviously the police have to compensate when dealing with large crowds - but my argument is that community events have enough long term benefits that its worth the police's time to patrol them. Furthermore community events fit nicely into the Department of Culture, Media and Sports remit.

We could then suggest that the DCMS award grants to the police for the covering of community events, but it seems like a waste of time and money to incur additional expenditure when at the end result is the same (ie that taxes pay for police upkeep).

Interestingly work is being done in the museums sector at the moment on analysing the effect of cultural institutions on the community in terms of economic and social impact - which would at least give some idea of a framework to quantify the effect of community events

incidentally, an online petition has been started here against the proposal
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/communityevents/


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Mr Majestik
Mr Majestik

coming to a country near you
Location: home of the tiney toothy bear
Member Since: 9th Mar 2004
Total posts: 4693
Posted:Originally Posted By: the petitionWe the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop the charging of community events for the cost of the policing. More details

Submitted by Andrew Osborne Deadline to sign up by: 06 April 2010 Signatures: 183

man i hope you didnt sign that petition... me thinks its not going to carry much weight written like that.


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