Bill for policing badger cull in Gloucestershire to be paid by Whitehall
THE full cost of policing the badger cull in Gloucestershire will be covered by Whitehall.
Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl has been reassured by bosses the constabulary will not be left out of pocket.
The shooting of almost 5,000 badgers is expected to start in June and cost the force millions.
Police are said to be bracing themselves for a 'security nightmare' and to have told the Government private security companies will be needed to stop the culls being overrun by animal rights activists.
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According to a report in The Times a source close to Gloucestershire Constabulary said: "We welcome this like a hole in the head".
Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (GABS) is organising a peaceful protest walk at Highnam Woods on April 1.
Member Jeanne Berry said they would not be looking to cause trouble but police were right to be prepared.
"We will be peacefully protesting the culls this summer," she said.
"But there is a lot of interest in this issue and there will be people coming from outside Gloucestershire and there may be an element of rabble rousers so police are right to be a bit concerned.
"It's a very emotive subject."
Figures released by Defra in October show the police's bill for policing the cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset is estimated at £4 million over four years.
Mr Surl raised the issue with criminal justice minister Damian Green when he visited Gloucester on Thursday.
The PCC said: "He assured me the constabulary would be fully reimbursed for the cost of the cull."
He was told a special grant will be made by the Government to cover the expense but said he had no estimate of what the bill may be.
"The cost depends entirely on events which are outside our control.
"I'm aware the heads of the constabulary are making provisions.
"I haven't enquired too deeply but the chief constable says they have it in hand and are in contact with protest groups and those who will execute the cull.
"My concern is not how they will police it as that is an operational matter but that they will do it in a fair manner without expressing a view on it.
"I will be making sure the public's right to protest is protected as well as the right to do the cull.
"It will put a strain on the constabulary but not one we are not used to."
Police are still waiting to hear if they will get back £64,000 spent preparing for the postponed culls.