If the police want to be seen as a part of local communities they are going about it a funny way here in the East. And apparently around the whole country.
A big item on BBC Look East last night was about carnivals in crisis. The reason: charges for police road closures as parades pass through towns and villages.
At Caister, Norfolk, the carnival is jeopardy after this year the procession took place around the King George V playing field instead for through the village.
Parish council vice-chairman Tony Baker, told the Great Yarmouth Mercury:
I think it is a great shame that a carnival in a village like this, which has a very good relationship with the police, is going to lose one of the main parts of the carnival just because the police can’t provide the officers for the road closures and carry out the traffic patrols on the route itself.
At Aldeburgh in Suffolk a procession through the seaside town will go ahead but the organisers are facing a funding crisis because of a £5,000 bill for policing, according to the East Anglian Daily Times. The carnival is on August 13—15.
Lowestoft carnival procession has been cancelled and in Beccles the route has been changed to avoid policing charges.
Carnival processions are a quintessential part of English summer life. Events at which the police can show themselves as a part of the communities in which they work.
But we seem to be drifting into a national police force, removed from its roots. The Association of Chief Police Officers has issued national advice which includes charging carnivals up to 75% of the cost of policing.
The guidance document (pdf) headed “Paying the Bill” — is the pun intentional?— covers a whole range of charges and runs to 63 pages.
At the same time forces around the country are expected to provide “mutual assistance” to London during next year’s Olympics. Presumable no charge for that.