Balcombe protests: Policing anti-fracking demo cost £2.3m
Policing the anti-fracking protests in Balcombe, West Sussex, has so far cost £2.3m, according to the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.
Sussex Police have scaled down their presence at energy firm Cuadrilla's test drilling site, but demonstrators are still camped by the roadside.
Ms Bourne estimates the cost will reach £3.7m by the end of September and has asked the government for support.
Protesters have described the police operation as “overkill”.
Cuadrilla is drilling a 3,000ft (900m) vertical well and a 2,500ft (750m) horizontal bore south of the village in a search for oil.
Campaigners fear the current work could lead to fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – in the future, but the energy firm said that would require fresh permission.
More than 30 people were arrested, including former Green Party leader and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, during the Reclaim the Power camp organised by campaign group No Dash For Gas.
Policing the camp, which attracted about 1,000 people, cost £1.5m, including aid provided by 10 other police forces, according to Ms Bourne.
She said: “It is important that taxpayers are kept updated on the ongoing costs of this policing operation.
“The increased involvement of national protest groups has meant that Sussex Police has had to deploy significant additional resources, including mutual aid from other police forces and this has put a strain on the police budget.
“Sussex Police is policing what I believe is a national issue. What happens in Sussex may determine what will happen nationally across police force areas in the future.”
Ms Bourne added: “I have now spoken and written to the policing minister confirming that I will be applying to the Home Office for funding to meet the additional costs of this policing operation, once the final figures are known.
“We anticipate that the final cost of this operation will be approximately £3.7m.”
Ewa Jasiewicz, from No Dash For Gas, said the police response was “overkill”.
She said: “We don't think that taxpayers' money should be used to protect a private corporation that is not acting in the public interest.”
She said that during the camp hundreds of people were trained in direct action and civil disobedience.
“The message to Caudrilla is that this is not over,” she added.
Sussex Police said 80 people had been arrested since protests against Cuadrilla's operations began in July.
The energy firm suspended work during the protest camp, but resumed operations on Wednesday afternoon.
The Home Office said the funding called for by Ms Bourne was provided when police forces face “unexpected or exceptional costs” that would otherwise threaten their financial stability.
However, it said the grants are only considered when the additional costs exceed a minimum of 1% of the force's annual budget.
Sussex Police received £252.8m for its operations in 2012-13.
Sussex Police's recruitment of civilian investigators is 'policing on the cheap’, claims fed rep
Sussex Police Federation’s chairman Paul Sellings said the force’s recruitment of 32 “response investigators” on 18-month fixe-dterm contracts was “policing on the cheap”.
The investigators, who will be based at Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings, Chichester, Crawley and Worthing, will replace police in interviewing some victims and suspects of crimes including assaults and criminal damage.
He said: “Sussex Police has got cash for 18 months but when you employ police officers you employ them for 30-odd years. The force cannot afford to do this. The Government will not allow it.
“It is policing on the cheap but it has got to be – because they only have the budget for 18 months. If you can get the same thing for less you have to do it.
“It will free up 32 officers who were doing this job to go out onto the street.”
A Sussex Police spokeswoman said they were not replacing detectives who investigate more serious crimes such as rape and grievous bodily harm, but were being hired in addition to them.
The new investigators will look at cases which have been referred to them by Sussex’s Neighbourhood Response Teams.
A starting rate of £20,020 a year is being offered, rising to £21,747 per annum.
In May, when Sussex Police began recruiting 80 PCs, it advertised a starting salary of £20,000, increased to £22,000 after six months and £23,000 after 12 months’ service.
Detective Constables’ salaries start at around £24,000 and then pay increments depend on length of service, experience and skill.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne yesterday denied the move was “policing on the cheap” – despite the force needing to save tens of millions by 2015.
Assistant Chief Constable Robin Merrett said: “This will enable us to free up police officers for front line duties, including responding to calls from the public and to target those who commit crimes. We are able to recruit and train these staff quicker than would be the case with officers and they will provide resilience within the teams – but they are not a replacement for officers.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, said: “This is not policing on the cheap. These people will be fully trained.”
Two police and crime commissioners under investigation
Two police and crime commissioners are being investigated by the police watchdog after they were accused of falsifying their eligibility for the posts.
The allegations against Simon Hayes, the PCC for Hampshire, and Winston Roddick, the PCC for north Wales, were reported by the Mail on Sunday.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said its investigation was at an “early stage”.
Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Police and crime commissioners are elected officials, responsible for appointing the chief constable of their force, setting local policing priorities, and overseeing their force's budget. They replaced police authorities in 41 force areas across England and Wales.
The legislation which created the post and paved the way for the election of its first occupants in 2012 says candidates must be registered on the electoral roll on both the day they are nominated as a candidate and the day of the election.
The Mail on Sunday newspaper said the IPCC was investigating allegations that the two men had listed addresses in their respective police force areas when in fact they had been living elsewhere.
I am quite content that it is being investigated”
It is an offence to provide a false statement on nomination papers and could invalidate a candidate's election.
It could also potentially result in a criminal conviction and imprisonment, which would automatically disqualify a commissioner from their post.
Mr Hayes, who stood as an independent candidate, told the BBC he denied the claims.
“I am content that I completed the nomination form correctly,” he said.
“There is an accusation which is being investigated by the IPCC. I am quite content that it is being investigated.”
Mr Roddick, also an independent, said: “The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating a complaint against me by a resident of north Wales.”
He dismissed the newspaper's claim that the watchdog had launched an “undercover sting” operation.
The resident had said “that on one of my nomination forms for the police and crime commissioner election last November I gave an address which was not my home address and thereby committed an election offence,” he continued.
“I believe I acted in a right and proper manner, but the IPCC is required to investigate such complaints and is doing so in a perfectly proper and transparent way.”
An IPCC spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have had referrals and our investigation is at an early stage.”
In his election statement, which was published online, Mr Roddick listed his address as in Caernarfon.
Mr Roddick, 72, is a QC and one of Wales' leading barristers. He was Wales' first Counsel General, the most senior legal adviser to the Welsh assembly.
He was elected as an independent in North Wales, ahead of the Labour candidate in last November's poll.
Before taking up his PCC post, Mr Hayes had been the chairman of Crimestoppers Hampshire and Isle of Wight.
He was previously a Conservative district and county councillor and leader of New Forest District Council.
Hampshire police trial body-worn cameras to record crime
Policing Minister Damian Green, visited Winchester to learn about the force's digital initiatives and praised Hampshire Police's “ambitious” use of digital technology.
Police in the area have started using tablets to input statements, check criminal records or file reports so they can stay on patrol rather than go back to the station.
Hampshire is one of 22 forces signed up to the Digital Pathfinders, a programme to help police modernise by using technology.
The use body-worn video is another initiative they are trialling.
“They have actually got cameras on them so that if an incident happens they can record it, which will provide a much more accurate record, said Mr Green.
“This is definitely the way policing will go. It's the next big phase of reform that we have to have to ensure the police come into the 21st century.”
Police staff investigated for web misuse
Two members of staff at British Transport Police (BTP) were upbraided for disclosing information about police operations online, official documents show.
Another was rebuked for making comments about an offender on Mark Zuckerberg's social network.
Of those investigated, 22 were reprimanded for inappropriate use of websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The force took formal action against six employees, three of whom were dismissed without notice.
Two members of staff resigned after the force launched an investigation into their conduct.
Of those who were sacked, one made repeated comments on Facebook that were deemed to discredit the BTP, another was dismissed for posting inappropriate images and the third was expelled from the force after publishing “inappropriate and offensive” remarks.
Several BTP employees were reprimanded for referring to cases online. While one worker disclosed information relating to a “police incident”, another posted “inappropriate entries on their Facebook profile in relation to an ongoing police operation,” according to the documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The BTP found there was a “case to answer” in relation to the officer accused of publishing information about a court case on Facebook but no action was taken.
An allegation made against an employee said to have used police information to contact a member of the public on Facebook was withdrawn.
Steven George-Hilley, director of technology at the Parliament Street think tank, which obtained the documents, said: “It's vital that organisations tasked with fighting crime put an end to sloppy social media policies and ensure staff are using sites like Twitter and Facebook responsibly.
“With proper training and robust guidelines in place, employees can use these digital channels to deliver instant information and better services to help protect the British public.”
Of the 30 cases, the majority related to Facebook. Two cases involved Twitter and in two cases, the social media site was unknown.
No action was taken following investigations into the conduct of five of the employees.
A BTP spokesman said: “As with any other organisations, BTP has many employees who use social media within their personal lives. We expect the highest professional standards from our officers and staff – whether on or off duty.
“It's always a matter of great regret when an employee's behaviour falls below those standards of professional behaviour, and, where appropriate, we will investigate and take action.
“This can range from words of advice or guidance being issued to more formal disciplinary action being taken.”