Policing reform u-turn described as “a victory for common sense” by festival organisers.

27 Jun 2014

Association of Independent Festivals, AFO, Festival Republic, Live Nation, UK Music and National Association of Outdoor Events have been campaigning on behalf of festival organisers in relation to a public consultation this year over whether the Special Police Service (SPS) should be a legal requirement on-site at events across the UK.

Due to a collective concern that some festivals and events were likely to go out of business if the Police and Home Office were to continue with the change in legislation, the coalition of festival organisers, venue owners, and promoters have opposed the decision.

However, it has now been decided by Ministers that the legislation surrounding Police costs and events will not be revised. The coalition have described the outcome as a “victory for common sense” following the Home Office’s decision not to move ahead with an all-out review of the system of charging events organisers for SPS.

Under existing law, the Special Police Services (SPS) would need to be requested by an event organiser, and subsequently the organiser would be charged for these services. Possible changes to the SPS regime included suggestions that the police might be empowered to impose and charge for the level of SPS as they saw fit, with charges potentially applied to core policing duties and to policing on public as well as private land.

“The current system for Special Police Services has worked well for almost 100 years, and is capable of working well in the future. We have banded together as an industry to make plain our opposition to the implications in policy thinking that could seriously threaten the competitiveness of the events industry,” said Claire O’Neill, Senior Manager, Association of Independent Festivals.

However, Claire went on to outline that the battle is not yet won, as the coalition noted that the application of the existing legislation is also damaging to the events industry, and there have been concerning reports of ‘overkill policing’ and threats from police forces to lodge licensing objections to events if their imposed charges are not agreed to.

“Whilst the prospect of a review of Special Police Services has been seen off by the efforts of our coalition, there is still a long way to go to ensure the current regime is respected, and we plan to continue to work towards that,” said AIF Senior Manager, Claire O’Neill.