I've been stuck in the car for most of the day which meant I could listen to the Olympics coverage, but the downside was having to listen to phone-ins on Radio 5 Lite. Today they were discussing this story:
Football clubs should pay all the costs of policing games, says the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Clubs currently have to pay back only the costs incurred inside their ground or on their property, with the rest coming from police budgets.
Freedom of Information requests from BBC Radio Five Live to the police showed it cost £7.5m to police 13 Premier League clubs, with the teams paying £4.3m and £3.2m coming from police budgets.
The usual suspects were wheeled out with their claims about football fans already paying taxes and we had the predictable calls from those calling in whining "its not fair".
As expected nobody was brought on to explain that general taxation pays for general policing in the area and what we are talking about is incremental policing. The reason we need extra policing in the area, not just in the ground, is because football fans cannot be trusted to behave themselves and therefore there is an external cost to their activity. As with all other activities those participating should pay for those externalities, usually through Pigou taxes.
One comparison used as an excuse for football not paying these costs was that the drinks industry doesn't pay for extra policing in city centres caused people getting drunk. What they didn't realise that this was a good example of a Pigovian tax on those who do go out drinking. As these people drink more they generate more taxes. Whether this covers the incremental cost of policing, cleaning and other exernalities is open for debate, but the principle is that those who costs most to police pay more.
Wouldn't it be nice if just once these vox pop's provided an opportunity for educating people as well as allowing the pig ignorant to espouse their prejudices?