A coalition of festival organisers, venue owners and event promoters have welcomed a Home Office decision to stick with existing arrangements for Special Police Services: SPS are police services above and beyond core police duties and under existing law, they are requested by an event organiser. and Event organisers that request SPS are required to pay for those police services that relate to their event.
Possible changes to the SPS regime included suggestions that the police might be empowered to impose and charge for the level of SPS they saw fit, with charges potentially applied to core policing duties and to policing on public as well as private land. “The current system for Special Police Services has worked well for almost 100 years, and is capable of working well in the future. We have banded together as an industry to make plain our opposition to the implications in policy thinking that could seriously threaten the competitiveness of the events industry,” said Claire O'Neill from the Association of Independent Festivals.
The coalition, made up more than 689 signatories from the Concert Promoters Association, National Arenas Association, Association of Festival Organisers, Local Authorities Event Organisers Group, Association of Independent Festivals, and National Outdoor Events Association wrote directly to Damian Green MP, Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims. It argued that giving the police free rein to impose charges on events would have damaged their competitiveness, inhibited many start-ups from entering the market and cost jobs, as many would have had to cease operation.
Today marks a significant victory following a long period of uncertainty. We’re grateful to the Home Office that the possibility of a system in which the police are empowered to impose a level of Special Police Services on event organisers has been stopped in its tracks,” said Guy Dunstan, Chairman of the National Arenas Association.
Despite sufficient existing legislation, the events coalition noted that there had even been concerns over the application of the existing legislation, including reports of:
• ‘Overkill policing’ (e.g. excessive, disproportionate searching and unnecessarily intimidating policing) as a response at events which have not agreed to the SPS charges proposed by the local force
• Attempts to impose a level of service at an event which is disproportionate and risks putting the event out of business altogether
• Threats from police forces to lodge licensing objections to events if their imposed charges are not agreed to
“Whilst the prospect of a review of Special Police Services has been seen off by the efforts of our coalition, there is still a long way to go to ensure current regime is respected, and we plan to continue to work towards that,” said Claire O'Neill.