G7Devon and Cornwall force to be joined by 5,000 officers from around the UK in its largest security operation
The security cost of hosting next weekends G7 summit in Cornwall will exceed £70m if the final bill of policing the meeting of world leaders is in line with the two previous events held in the UK.
Around 6,500 police will secure the event at Carbis Bay, near St Ives, on 11-13 June, with more than 5,000 coming from around the country to help the Devon and Cornwall force run what it said is the largest security operation in its history.
Ten foot high steel fences have already been put up in the Cornish seaside resort to help protect Joe Biden on his first overseas trip as US president and other G7 leaders at the event hosted by Boris Johnson.
Roads will be closed and security checkpoints placed across the county, starting from Wednesday at Newquay airport, Falmouth, where media will be based, and to secure designated official protest sites in Truro and Falmouth.
Policing costs for major public events are normally disclosed months after taking place the final security bill for the last equivalent meeting, the G8 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, held in 2013 was put at £75m.
The previous G8 meeting in the UK was held at Gleneagles in 2005, against the backdrop of the Make Poverty History campaign, which attracted hundreds of thousands to protest marches across Scotland. Policing the summit and protest events cost £72m.
The G7 coalition comprises world leaders from seven countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. This year, Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea have been invited as guest countries to attend the summit.
How the world recovers from Covid-19 will form a big part of the discussions at this years meeting, as well as how to tackle the climate emergency, preserving biodiversity and championing free trade.
Campaigners led by the Resist G7 Coalition, an umbrella group for protesters, said it was the G7 that is costing money, not the protesters and complained that police were adding to costs by their approach to the event.
As part of its operation, Devon and Cornwall police created four designated protest sites that were out of the way, with no relevance to the G7. Resist G7 and other protest groups made it clear we would boycott these sites, a spokesperson said.
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The campaign group also argued that the costs of staging the event, which is dominated by the security bill, would be better spent on alleviating poverty nearby, in one of the least well-off parts of the UK.
In St Ives next to the lavish Carbis Bay Hotel more than one in three children live in poverty. Quite rightly, local residents are asking why some of the estimated £70m wont be used to address child poverty, homelessness or the spiralling use of foodbanks here, the spokesperson said.
Resist G7 is organising three days of protest events, starting on 11 June with a mass day of action the day after. It wants anybody intending to come down to take a lateral flow test first, and wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall, said he was expecting and intending and hoping that theres peaceful protests and that facilitating them was an important part of British democracy.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4s Today programme, he said he wanted to encourage protesters to go to the official sites, but added: Were not so naive as to believe that everyone will go there.
Security costs may be reduced because the pandemic will depress the numbers of protesters willing to attend. The number of police officers scheduled to be on duty is also lower than before. At Enniskillen, 8,600 police were deployed while 11,000 were used in Scotland to maintain security in 2005.
A spokesperson for this years G7 event said all costs of the summit would be borne by central government.
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