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Cost of policing PM's holiday revealed

PUBLISHED: 19:22 01 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:19 05 July 2010

Alasdair McGregor

Police chiefs have fired off a letter to a government minister asking him to reimburse them with tens of thousands of pounds spent on protecting Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his family holiday in Suffolk last summer.

Police chiefs have fired off a letter to a government minister asking him to reimburse them with tens of thousands of pounds spent on protecting Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his family holiday in Suffolk last summer.

Suffolk Constabulary says the two-week holiday left it to foot a hefty bill, which the EDP understands to be in the region of £160,000, and put extra pressure on an already stretched budget.

Mr Brown, his wife Sarah and their two young sons stayed at the luxurious Shadingfield Hall, between Beccles and Southwold, during July and August, leading to a major security operation.

While the high profile visit was credited with giving the area's tourism industry a boost, it has left Suffolk police with a financial headache.

A force spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have requested funds to cover the costs of the Prime Minister's visit to Suffolk last summer.

“The constabulary incurred considerable cost to pay for the security operation for the visit. These costs had not been part of our planned budget and have placed pressure on our finances.”

The spokesman went on to say that Suffolk police has to cope with the second lowest funding per head of population among similar-sized forces.

She added: “Taking these circumstances into account, we have written to Vernon Coaker, minister of state for policing, security and crime, to try to recoup these costs.”

Mr and Mrs Brown kicked off their summer holiday with a media call at Whitlingham Country Park, near Norwich, but kept a low profile during their stay in north Suffolk.

However, news did emerge of family visits to the Hollywood Cinema, in Lowestoft, and a maize maze, near Southwold.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed the letter from Suffolk police had been received and its request for funding was under consideration.

She said: “If a local police force has to incur additional policing costs for a government event, then the police authority can request special grant support from the Home Secretary.

“This is a discretionary grant and the level of support depends on the relative size of the authority's reserves and the force's capability to deal with major incidents.”

Any grant given would be based on independent advice given by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

The spokesman added: “The police service in England and Wales has benefited from a significant increase in resources over a sustained period.

“On a like-for-like basis, government grant for the police will have increased by over 60pc, or over £3.7bn between 1997/98 and 2010/11.”

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