I have written to my London Assembly representative who is also a member of the Police and Crime Committee, using the website https://www.writetothem.com enquiring as to the cost of policing Julian Assange of WikiLeaks at Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge. London Assembly according the their website define their role as:
The London Assembly is an elected watchdog for the capital made up of 25 Assembly Members. Our role is to examine how effective the Mayor’s policies, decisions and activities are. We champion London, investigating issues that affect everyday life in the capital to find ways of improving our city for everyone who lives here. We ensure the Mayor is held publicly accountable every day, not just at election time.
Monday 13 January 2014
Dear Roger Evans,
I am writing to you as my London Assembly Member.
I am shocked at the number of police presence outside and inside No 3 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge which houses the Ecuadorian Embassy in which Julian Assange has been granted political Asylum. At least 24 uniformed Metropolitan police personnel (4 officers, 6 x 4 hour shifts) a day are stationed at the building and vicinity which is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I have also observed at times as many
as three stationary Metropolitan police vans parked outside and the side of the Embassy, in addition to other police vehicles. The resources spent in this operation that is continuing well in its second year go further than what the naked eye of a passer by can observe and record but I read on the press that Tax payers money are also spent for the electronic surveillance of the Embassy. Furthermore, other law enforcement units are reportedly involved in this operation which are not in uniform and therefore not identifiable.
I am writing to you to please inform me how much this operation has cost the Tax payer so far and include my question as a Spending performance and governance item in the Police and Crime Committee (to which you are a member of) Agenda for discussion and furthermore raise it as a concern in the appropriate London Assembly sessions.
London has 32 Boroughs and I would rather see the expenditure occurring at Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge be divided among these boroughs, Havering included, for much needed police services, instead of being wasted in unrelated matters outside the mandate of MetPol to protect Londoners.
I would like to thank you in advance for your time in dealing with my question. It is important for facts to be known about the expenditure of public funds at a time of general austerity when we see police stations / fire stations closing down. Transparency in spending performance is paramount to uphold the highest accountability standards in public governance. When we talk about police expenditure, such vital operation in our society, there must be no compromise to such standards.
Mrs Emilia B
I received a reply from Mr Rogers who very kindly informs me:
Dear Mrs B****,
Thank you for your email. I agree that in current conditions the Metropolitan Police budget needs to be carefully spent, indeed I feel that costs should be closely monitored and need to be justified at all times, regardless of austerity measures. The inclusion of national functions within the Met often makes this process more difficult unfortunately. In the past I have suggested splitting these national responsibilities out of the Met so that Scotland Yard can be entirely focused on policing London. The Met are however reluctant to support this type of reform because they would lose a generous stream of government funding.
I have asked the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to provide a breakdown of the costs involved in the Assange case. I imagine that questions have been asked about such a contentious issue on a number of occasions so I expect that they will be able to provide the required information.
I will provide you with their response when I receive it.
I have received no answer to my question but saw an article on Huffington Post UK about the matter and apparently:
Julian Assange’s prolonged stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy has cost the Metropolitan Police £5.3million, in the 18 months since he entered the building in Knightsbridge.
Police are stationed day and night outside the embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder was granted asylum, ready to arrest Assange, who was set to be extradited to face questioning in Sweden on sexual assault allegations.
Assange claimed that Sweden would extradite him to the US over leaking secret documents. In Sweden, he faces potential rape charges from one woman and sexual assault charges from another, stemming from a visit to Stockholm in 2010.
The most recent estimated cost available for the policing operation outside the Ecuador Embassy is for the period to 31st December 2013, according to an Freedom of Information request sent to the Huffington Post UK by the Metropolitan Police.
Update on 13/03/2014
Dear Mrs B***
Thank you for your email to Roger Evans AM.
I have checked with my colleague who looked into this for you and I can confirm that the estimated total cost of policing the Ecuadorian embassy between June 2012 and the end of December 2013 is £5.3m, of which £0.9m is additional costs and £4.4m is opportunity costs.
I hope this is helpful and if I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
RSO to Roger Evans AM
Deputy Chairman of the London Assembly
GLA Assembly Member for Havering & Redbridge