UK
19/07/2013 12:30 BST | Updated 19/07/2013 14:01 BST

EDL Marches Costing Taxpayers £10m In Police Patrolling Costs

Demonstrations by the English Defence League have cost the British taxpayer more than £10m due to police patrolling, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

West Midlands Police commissioner Bob Jones told the BBC that figures were a cause for concern, having spent more than £500,000 alone on multiple protest policing in Birmingham.

"We find it grossly unhelpful that this group is coming to demonstrate here again," he said, ahead of another protest planned for this weekend.

"They are extremely unwelcome and it is likely to blow a very significant hole in the police budget," Jones said.

edl demonstration

Kevin Caroll, EDL deputy leader, addresses supporters of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) near Downing Street

"There will be over 1,000 officers mobilised and it's likely to be one of the largest and most expensive operations we mount this century.

"We've had significant reductions in our budget and policing these demonstrations is a significant cost and strain on our already stretched budgets," he said.

But EDL leader Tommy Robinson said the cost was a small price to pay for freedom of speech.

"We are not committing terrorism, all we are doing is protesting and voicing our concerns. There is no price you can put on democracy," Robinson told the broadcaster.

The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to 37 police forces in England and received 17 responses.

Bedfordshire Police recorded the highest cost of £2,447,172, followed by West Yorkshire Police at £1,911,088.

PROFILE: Tommy Robinson, The EDL Leader

A Home Office spokesman said: "The EDL is not a proscribed terrorist organisation and it is government policy not to comment on whether a group is under consideration for proscription."

This weekend, more than 1,000 police officers will be policing an EDL demo and a counter demonstration in Birmingham city centre, for a static demonstration on Saturday, a week after the Kanz-ul-Iman Jamia Mosque, in Tipton, was attacked in a nail bomb blast.

Simon Cressy, of Hope Not Hate, said in a post: "As austerity bites spare a thought for the poor taxpayers of Bedfordshire who have had to shell out a small fortune to police the rabble that is known as the EDL.

"With the EDL thugs gathering in Birmingham this weekend it's good to know where your hard earned money is going."