Australia’s biggest festival and concert promoters have gone head to head with the Australian Police Force by secretly lobbying the NSW Government to reconsider the user-pays system currently in place for those requiring a police presence at events. Led by Chugg Entertainment, the group of promoters claim they’ve been ripped off, and in turn so have punters.
Suspicions were first raised following Mumford and Sons’ 2012 performance in the rural town of Dungog. To maintain a crowd of 1800 people, the police required a fee of $30,000. This is the exact same fee charged by inner-city police who patrolled a Coldplay concert with 50,000 people.
Fairfax Media has since investigated claims that the 5-0 have been playing it fast and loose with their fees and discovered that there seems to be no rhythm or rhyme to the pricing scale, exposing a security monopoly which is wrong for oh so many reasons, the most obvious of which being that it leads directly to increased ticket prices.
Introduced by Bob Carr, the user-pays scheme allows citizens to hire off-duty uniformed police officers for private events. Some events are even legally required to use police resources if there is an increased risk.
But even the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) are on the other side of the plan, issuing a report last year that showed overtime for police needlessly increases “integrity hazards and corruption risks”. If that doesn’t make your skin crawl, then this will – the PIC has also received reports of officers lying about their overtime via user-pays and unlawfully doctoring their roster so they could make it happen.
Fairfax discovered that the rate for a user-pays coppa can go as high as $100 an hour, with the officer pocketing time and a half of their regular pay and the rest going back to HQ.
Of course, police groups have disputed the claims of extortionate pricing, insisting that there is total transparency. In reference to the Dungog, at which 6 people were arrested, Police Association president Scott Weber has explained that rates increase due to the remote locations of some events:
“This is not about profit, it’s about public safety – if there aren’t enough police to do the job we need to get them there, secure accommodation, and that all costs money.”
In the space of 12 months, Soundwave Festival has seen their budget for user-pays policing jump from $70,000 to $100,000. Interesting considering none of the 70,000 punters were arrested this year.
No promoter has publicly commented on the issue though Police Minister Michael Gallacher has explained that the police are in talks with event promoters as well as the Transport and Tourism Forum in an attempt to “examine ways to streamline processes related to user pays to improve efficiencies”.
(Via Tone Deaf)