Festivals policing crisis

Rising police charges mean event organisers across Dumfries and Galloway are facing serious financial challenges to make events both safe for the public to attend and viable.

Concerns over the rising cost of policing music festivals, have been raised in the Scottish Parliament by local MSPs.

Conservative MSP Finlay Carson said: “Rising policing costs have placed a huge burden on popular local festivals and events.

“I raised this very issue in Parliament during a recent debate where I cited the example of the Wickerman Festival, which did not go ahead this year, due in no small part to unreasonable policing requirements; depriving our area of hundreds of thousands of pounds of income.

“I have also met with the Divisional Commander, Gary Ritchie, and stressed the point that local policing policies should be dictated by the needs and issues of Dumfries and Galloway, not by practices which might work in the Central Belt”.

Labour MSP Colin Smyth added: “In 2015, the policing bill for the Eden festival was £12,000 for a licensed audience of 8,000. This year it is £38,000, an increase of more than 300 per cent.

“The Electric Fields festival had a bill of £1,600 for 2,000 people last year; this year it is £19,000 for an audience of 5,000, albeit over two days. Notwithstanding the perception of overpolicing, the charges by Police Scotland are well above those in England, undermining and risking events in rural areas and putting Scotland at a competitive disadvantage with our near neighbours.

“Having carried out the voluntary role as Events Champion for Dumfries and Galloway Council I’ve seen at first hand just how vital events and festivals are to the region both culturally and to the local economy. However, it’s clear that the spiralling costs of policing such events is a threat to their future and the Government must take immediate action to put a halt to the soaring costs being demanded by Police Scotland before long-term damage is done.”

Cabinet Minister Aileen Campbell stated that the Government are working with Police Scotland on this issue.