Police: Special Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:05 am on 11th March 2004.

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Photo of Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate Labour 11:05 am, 11th March 2004

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Is she aware that ancient fairs—some as old as 800 years—are at risk of being driven out of business by savage charging imposed by police authorities? In one case of which I am aware, the charge was £180,000.

While it is understandable for the police to charge for special services on private premises, does my noble friend agree that policing is a public service and that it is unacceptable to charge in respect of ancient funfairs in public places and on high streets, while night clubs and bars proliferate in city centres, causing massive policing problems, with no charges at all? Policing should be free at the point of delivery. After all, the public have only two choices—take it or leave it.

Does my noble friend further agree that the disparity in charging practices by the police amounts to postcode policing of the worst possible kind, which can only further damage the reputation of the police in the eyes of the public?