Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Costs of policing football matches

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?


TheFatBigot said...

Welcome back Mr Simpleton.

In principle I am all for those who organise events which require additional policing to pay the full cost, but I believe this should be limited to commercial activities.

Village fetes, amateur sporting events and the like might not be able to survive if they had to pay the cost of the police and ambulance services which regularly attend "just in case".

Professional football games, cricket test matches, motor racing and all the other big commercial sporting gatherings are business activities and should treat the cost of policing as they treat the cost of paying to clean the stadium of litter after the game.

The Great Simpleton said...



The requirements for extra policing at village fetes and amateur sporting events tends, in my experience, to be minimal. What they do tend to need is support from St John's Ambulance which I beleive is free?

The argument around professional events is not the extra policing costs at the event but those incurred in city centres and transport routes. The do pay for the direct costs at the event.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Well at least they're paying about half, I agree that the police should haggle a better deal here, but hey...

As to paying for policing of drunkards in city centres, I have a detailed policy on that.