Lancashire Police are to be reimbursed £4.3m by the Government towards the cost of policing the ongoing fracking protests at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.
The county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw described it as ‘a real victory for the people of Lancashire’ after Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd bowed to mounting pressure and announced the reimbursement.
Despite repeated requests outlining the growing costs of the policing operation, which by the end of next month will have reached close to £11.5m, last year Lancashire was handed back just £1.4m from Government, the minimum allowed under Home Office rules.
Describing that as a ‘bitter blow for Lancashire’, Mr Grunshaw continued to fight Government for the additional costs of the large scale policing operation, lobbying MPs and gaining cross party support, urging them to reconsider.
Now, in a letter signed by Nick Hurd, the Government has said that after careful consideration, they have decided to waive the usual one per cent rule on Special Grant due to the ongoing nature of the operation and the significant financial impact the operation is having on the force.
Mr Grunshaw said: “This is a real victory for the people of Lancashire.
“Whilst the grant doesn’t cover the full costs of the operation, it is a huge contribution and will make a significant difference, recovering what we have already spent.
“I have always maintained that the police budget, from which we’ve already saved £86m since 2010, should be spent on policing services to keep people safe. This is not extra money but will lessen the burden on the force.
“This is a resource demand which is not likely to leave Lancashire any time soon. Protests are still ongoing and are expected to escalate as we enter spring and summer and officers on the ground continue to do a very difficult job under intense pressure and scrutiny.
“The decision to frack in our county was borne in Whitehall after the judgement made by Lancashire County Council was overturned. The expectation on Lancashire Constabulary to cover the costs of this decision was not a fair deal so I am pleased this has been recognised and additional costs for this operation are being met.”
A Special Grant of up to £2.3m will be awarded for 2018/19.
That represents 85 per cent of the total additional costs and assumes a 15 per cent contribution from the force.
An additional £2m has also been given towards the 2017/18 costs, which makes the total grant received for the operation £5.8m, out of total additional costs of £6.8m, with a further application considered for 2019/20.
Home Office rules state Police and Crime Commissioners can only claim for additional costs of a police operation – these are any costs where officers are working beyond plain time such as overtime and mutual aid from other forces.