UK riots cost Hampshire taxpayers £900,000

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HAMPSHIRE police is facing a £900,000 bill for dealing with last month’s riots, The News can reveal.

The overtime payments for extra policing in our area as violence swept other parts of the country in August is £500,000.

But police say a further £400,000 has been spent on specialist public order officers being sent to help out the Met in riot-hit London and West Midlands Police.

It is hoped the Hampshire force can recoup this money as part of standard ‘mutual aid’ payments set down by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Some cash could also come from the Home Office, although negotiations are ongoing.

But the £500,000 spent ramping up policing efforts in our area will come from the Hampshire force’s £8.309m underspend this year.

Michael Coombes, finance director at Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘We have deliberately underspent this year’s budget by £8m so the money is coming from that.

‘Policing is all about being ready for the unexpected.

‘In any one year there are always things that come along which are not expected.

‘In that sense because we have been deliberately underspending, it is manageable.’

Specialist public support unit officers have spent the last five weeks providing back up for the Met in the capital.

At first they travelled to and from London daily, but Hampshire’s force later put them up in London as some officers were reportedly working up to 22-hour shifts.

Officers were also drafted in to help out West Midlands Police.

Police experienced what Hampshire’s Chief Constable Alex Marshall described as ‘direct action’ during the height of the riots in London

Meanwhile policing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight was ramped up amid fears violence could flare in our area.

At its peak last month the number of officers on our streets rocketed from 800 to about 1,200.

Frontline officers’ rest days were cancelled and police worked 12-hour shifts to keep our streets safe over the weekend starting on Friday August 12.

About 200 police community support officers and special constables were on duty during the period.

However there was no rise in crime and no major trouble in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Mr Coombes added: ‘There will be a debate nationally about the rules that will be applied as to how much forces get back.

‘The Home Office may put something towards it but it is not definite.’