Martin Evans, Telegraph (London), May 23, 2014
Far-right groups should be banned from staging protests because each one costs up to half a million pounds to police, a senior officer has said.
South Yorkshire Chief Constable, David Crompton, said the money could be better spent on other issues and he urged the Government to make more funds available or consider changing the law.
The English Defence League has staged three major protests in Rotherham over the last 18 months and Mr Crompton said the cost of ensuring such events pass off smoothly was having a major impact on his Force’s budget.
He told the Yorkshire Post: “Either somebody changes the law so that it’s less easy to do this or alternatively there are some funds available that we can tap into.
“As it stands, we have a lot of power over marches but we don’t have in any way the same control over assemblies.”
He said they needed to look at options which would place restrictions on the right to assembly, but he also recognised it was a touchy subject and was connected to freedom of speech.
Under the Public Order Act 1986, chief officers may impose conditions on assemblies to prevent serious public disorder, serious damage to property, or serious disruption to the life of the community.
The directions can relate to the duration, location and size of any demonstration but the police have no powers to ban static assemblies in public places.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Peaceful protest is a vital part of a democratic society, provided it is conducted within the law.
“But protesters’ rights need to be balanced with the rights of others to go about their business without fear of intimidation or serious disruption to the community.
“The management of demonstrations is an operational matter for the police. Forces can apply for a special grant to cover significant and exceptional events which threaten their financial stability.”