A new estimate has put the policing costs for Smash EDO protests over the last two years at £1 million. Anti-arms protestors Smash EDO have been campaigning in Brighton for many years, and have organized a number of high profile protests during this two year period.
The group gathered once again in Moulsecoomb on Wednesday 13 October to protest against a Brighton weapons factory. Two hundred and fifty officers were present, drawn from divisions across Sussex, to police the 200 protestors involved. The high-visibility police operation on 13 October has allegedly cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds alone.
The cost comes at a time when the force is expecting to make £52 million in cuts over the next four years.
The Brighton and Hove Divisional Commander for Sussex Police said: “Despite designating a highly visible site for protesters on the main road to the factory, many of them have not used it.
“Our aim today was to facilitate peaceful protest, instead many have caused disruption by failing to comply with police directions, running away through fields and woodland and causing a disruption to local people.”
The divisional commander also pointed out that the minor injuries that happened were caused by people running around.
Although Andrew Beckett, spokesman for the protestors, pointed out that “massive pre–emptive arrests were made to stop people from breaching the peace before they had done anything, and to reduce the size of the demo, rather than because of something criminal.”
On the issue of costs Beckett also commented that, “the police are using our money to repress us, in support of a private company weapons company.”
The company owning the factory has made no comment on the protests.