Cost of Yarls Wood may fall on local residents

25 Apr 02
Council taxpayers in Bedfordshire may be asked to stump up around £500 each to cover the cost of the riot at Yarl's Wood detention centre, it was revealed this week.

26 April 2002

The local police authority, meanwhile, has issued a 'see you in court' challenge to the site's private contractor, Group 4.

Adrian Heffernan, chair of the Bedfordshire Police Authority, said it was 'no idle threat' to say that the county's residents could be footing the bill for the asylum seekers' riot that led to the closure of the centre in March.

DJ Pye Ltd, the Lloyd's syndicate that provided Group 4 with its insurance policy, has lodged a claim now valued by loss adjustors at £96m. If the police force were found to have a statutory obligation to meet the claim under the Riot Damages Act, it would have to pay out more than the annual cost of policing the county, currently £72m.

'No police force has ever faced a case like this,' a spokesman for the force said. 'Meeting the claim would shut us down overnight, but the Home Office is not going to let that happen.'

But Heffernan said the government had 'not promised a blank cheque' to meet the costs and that, other than increasing council tax, there were few methods of raising the money if the Home Office did not step in. He added that taxpayers would face a rise of 'around £509' if the police were forced to pass on the cost.


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