'A city council and its contractor have become reliant on police protection to carry out a programme of tree-felling, a report has found.
An independent report into the policing of anti-tree-felling protests in Sheffield said the city had now become dependent on a heightened level of policing due to the controversial policy.
It questioned why the cost of this policing could not be passed on to Sheffield City Council (SCC) and its contractor Amey – accusing the local authority of “washing its hands of the issue”.
Report author Andrew Lockley said: “The conclusion we have drawn is that SCC, and its contractors, Amey, have become dependent on the heightened level of South Yorkshire Police (SYP) involvement to carry out the tree-felling programme.”
In the report – commissioned by South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Alan Billings – Mr Lockley said that he examined one criticism – ”namely, the reliance of SCC on policing to secure the performance of a commercial contract”- and found it to be “well founded”.
Referring to one protest observed by his panel, he said: “It will have appeared to those attending that SCC had simply washed its hands of the issue and left Amey to it.”
Among a series of recommendations, Mr Lockley called for a review into why the law forbids the police from passing on its costs when it is operating on public land.
The report said: “It may be asked why the cost of policing the protests is not re-charged to SCC and Amey. The answer is that the law does not allow it.”
It said: “In an age in which private organisations carry out public functions for commercial gain, it is unclear in policy terms why the cost of policing which facilitates the performance of a commercial contract should come at nil cost to the contractor.”'
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