Hold the police to account, to keep major events in Dumfries and Galloway.
Flagship community events in Dumfries and Galloway like Eden Festival could be forced to relocate because of soaring police costs and overly heavy policing.
Local MSP Colin Smyth has warned the Scottish Parliament that,
“In 2015, the policing bill for the Eden festival was £12,000 for a licensed audience of 8,000. This year it is £38,000, an increase of more than 300 per cent. The Electric Fields festival had a bill of £1,600 for 2,000 people last year; this year it is £19,000 for an audience of 5,000, albeit over two days. Notwithstanding the perception of over policing, the charges by Police Scotland are well above those in England, undermining and risking events in rural areas and putting Scotland at a competitive disadvantage with our near neighbours.”
Eden Festival had enjoyed a good working relationship between festival goers and the police for the first 7 years of the event, with very little trouble to report. However with new Police Event Commanders overlooking the festival, the heavy police presence at Eden Festival this year (including an unprecedented 14 undercover officers) was unwelcome and unnecessary. Eden Festival was a finalist in both 2014 and 2015 for the ‘Best Family Festival’, but this year families were escorted out of their cars by police officers in stab vests and rubber gloves with dogs. Understandably some complained about the heavy-handed and inappropriate policing levels at the event.
Police Scotland have previously agreed with Event Scotland that they would, ‘proactively consider the scope for the use of private security firms or licensed stewards to minimise the use of police officers’. However, despite Eden doubling the number of trained stewards from 35 to 70, police refused to review their policing levels.
Police Scotland should not be allowed to act as ‘judge, jury and executioner’ - effectively running their own tender, personally deciding the specification on interpretation of policy, appointing themselves ahead of private sector security firms and then threatening event organisers that they will have their licences withdrawn if they do not agree in full.
As Police Scotland typically cost five times as much as SIA trained specialist security firms, this approach threatens the future sustainability of events.
To make matters worse, the police refused to grant Eden their usual 50% discount this year. Not-for-profit events like Eden that have social and economic benefits can qualify for reductions in police fees because of their non-commercial status. However, this year the police refused to discount their fees, and would not explain their decision.
In other parts of Scotland, community events pay low or no police fees at all. Eden Festival and events like it could move away from Dumfries and Galloway if this unequal treatment is allowed to continue.
Sign this petition if you want to see a fair and transparent approach to policing, and reinstatement of the 50% discount for not-for-profit events in Dumfries and Galloway.
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