As Leeds United test policing costs, WOMAD plans to go police free

August 2012

Live events industry


Championship football team Leeds United, one of England’s biggest clubs, but with a history of fierce rivalry with other teams such as Cardiff City, Arsenal and Milwall, are challenging the spiralling cost of policing at the club’s Elland Road ground in the High Court. United were charged about £250,000 for policing during the 2007-2008 season, but by the 2011-2012 season this had risen to more than £1m, said club barrister Michael Beloff QC. United claim they have been wrongly charged by West Yorkshire Police for matchday work by the force on streets and car parks around Elland Road. They argue that the police should not bill them for maintaining order or preventing obstructions on land which is neither club-owned nor controlled and Leeds are now seeking to persuade top judge Mr Justice Eady to order a refund of the alleged overpayments.

Mr Beloff told the High Court: “West Yorkshire Police’s insistence on charging Leeds United for such policing is illegal, as it is an attempt to charge a private citizen for the normal costs of policing, when such a citizen is entitled to expect such services to be provided by the police pursuant to their duties to the public.” He also said that the court action was “in the nature of a test case”. Mr Beloff said the footballing and policing worlds both hoped a ruling would provide “powerful guidance” on the issue.

And the WOMAD festival organisers have told the BBC that they may use security companies to police the event held at Charlton Park, near Malmesbury, in Wiltshire if an agreement is not reached with the the local Wiltshire Police who currently say they will not be attending.  Now organisers have confirmed that this year’s event will still go ahead even if an agreement over policing is not reached with WOMAD director Chris Smith telling the BBC the event are considering the use private security. He is quoted as saying, “We don’t want to go ahead without the police, but where we are at the moment is the police have said they are not coming, so we are now revising our plans to present to the licensing authority to show that we can run the event without the police. It’s not where we want to be, but it’s currently where we’re heading.”

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