News that the Met are pushing to charge London football clubs for policing outside their grounds has given us much to ponder.
We see the problem. Our football supporters can be an unruly lot, inclined to flock together in pubs beforehand and roam the streets chanting. Jostling and worse can ensue. It's wise to have a solid police presence to protect fans of both teams and the local residents trying to go about their business on what was meant to be a peaceful Saturday afternoon. Clubs already have to pay for police on duty inside the ground, but bobbies on the beat outside the hallowed gates are of course funded out of the council tax paying public's pocket.
But wouldn't this effectively put the police in each football club's pocket, ensuring that our neighbourhood coppers prioritise patrolling the football fans, rather than the local community? Ironic, seeing as the Commissioner wants the levy ploughed back into community policing.
Still, yes, perhaps the clubs should contribute more towards policing. But how how will it be worked out fairly? Do you start counting the expenses from the tube station to the ground? Ask the clubs to pay per officer deployed to the area or for all police activity in a certain radius of the club for 1 hour before and after the match? Perhaps the clubs could choose from a bespoke selection of policing options detailed in a glossy brochure; Imagine the deluxe patrol including 100 WPCs on horseback, and a fleet of skateboarding constables for Arsenal and the budget selection of 100 trainees fresh out of Hendon and 50 Special Constables for QPR.
Back in the real world though, we can't imagine reaching agreement on this one between the MPS and the London clubs in a hurry.