The decision by the Home Secretary to change the funding formulae for policing political conferences will have a negative impact on Sussex Police as it will on all Police forces in areas where our Political Parties hold their occasional set piece public outings. This year the Labour Party will be bringing their chums, donors, commercial sponsors etc down to Brighton and for those of us who enjoy the opportunity to attend an occasional fringe event their visit is broadly welcome. I am particularly pleased about this as it provides me with the opportunity to show Alison McGovern how well our Council and their partners do work to try to meet the needs of the men and women who choose to sleep on the streets of our city. It remains to be seen if Mrs McGovern has the courage of her own accusations spoken in Parliament a few days ago. My interest in the conference which inevitably causes disruption across the city is clearly a personal matter. Others in the city such as hoteliers and caterers may benefit financially from the visit, providing of course the Party brings lots of people with them. Whatever the consequences the visit will require preparation. It would be easy to assume that the Policing for such events is relatively easy and simply follows the pattern of all previous events going back many years. That is clearly the view of Theresa May who has withdrawn Home Office funding for the planning of Party Conferences.
According to this article at least one Police and Crime Commissioner is disturbed by the change, although our own PCC appears to have remained silent on the issue. Perhaps the fact that she and Mrs May are members of the same Political Party has a bearing on that? As the article explains while the funding for planning has been cut, the expenditure in terms of Policing itself will be met in full, in contrast to previous years when only 85% of the Policing costs were met. This seems rather bizarre. Organising any event in an effective manner, takes time and energy, yet it is the best way of restricting unnecessary costs overall. If cuts are made in the planning, yet the funding for the event itself is unchecked, there is surely a risk in some places that extra resources which may not be needed will be provided just in case. A bit like catering. If you don’t know who is coming, you might take a risk and provide extra food and drink just in case. When the numbers don’t materialise, the food and drink sits on the table, evident for all concerned that the plans have gone awry. I know how hard Sussex Police work along with their partners in Surrey to plan for events like this. Let us hope that despite this political change from the Home Office which underlines how little they understand policing that the usual high standards will not slip even if the costs for this planning will need to come from the funds set aside for policing our residents! Perhaps in due course our PCC will also raise her concerns with Mrs May!