Donald Trump’s UK visit is causing “mayhem” for British police with security operations costing millions of pounds, MPs have said.
Thousands of officers are being moved around the country to guard areas where the US president will make an appearance, as colleagues in their home forces have shifts extended and leave cancelled to cover their absence.
Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow policing minister, accused the government of providing “no guarantee that the additional costs required will be fully met”.
“It is simply dangerous to ask our officers to do more and more without giving them the time to recuperate,” she told the House of Commons.
“This event will have a huge knock-on effect well into the summer.”
Up to £5m funding for police in Scotland, where Mr Trump will be visiting his own golf course, has already been ring-fenced but the potential cost for England and Wales has not been calculated.
The policing minister, Nick Hurd, said forces would be able to apply for special grant funding but Labour pointed to statistics showing £12.6m of requests has been refused in the past two years.
Mr Hurd admitted the cost of policing Mr Trump’s visit and related protests will “run into millions”, but the Home Office will not know how much until individual chief constables apply to be reimbursed.
“This is a significant and historic event, and police have developed robust plans to ensure the safety and security of the visit,” Mr Hurd told MPs.
“The number of police officers required for this operation has fallen significantly in the last two weeks.”
Officers being deployed to Essex under “mutual aid” arrangements found themselves in a leisure centre where they were expected to sleep on the floor, with limited access to toilets and running water.
Mr Hurd said the conditions were “unacceptable” and Essex Police has since apologised and found alternative accommodating with the Ministry of Defence.
The minister admitted the huge security operation for Mr Trump’s visit “comes at a time when police resources are also focused on investigating the incidents in Salisbury, protecting us against terror attacks and delivering on their own local policing plans”.
Dennis Skinner, the veteran Labour MP for Bolsover, called Mr Trump a “fascist” and questioned why the government was hosting him.
“What on earth is the government playing at inviting this fascist like Trump to come to Britain and cause all this mayhem…police from every part of the British Isles?” he asked.
Fellow Labour MP Stephen Doughty called Mr Trump “racist, divisive and sexist”, adding: “If we weren’t rolling out the red carpet for him in so many locations, we wouldn’t have the costs and pressures we have on police.”
He raised concerns that the visit would serve as a “rallying opportunity” for far-right groups, ahead of protests in support of both Mr Trump and the jailed English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson on Saturday.
Mr Trump has retweeted anti-Muslim posts from the Britain First group, whose leaders were subsequently jailed, while his son has tweeted in support of Robinson and a Republican Congressman is due to speak at the rally.
Mr Hurd said police were “managing the risk” caused by the marches and insisted that Britain should welcome Mr Trump.
“Any visit from any president of the US is a significant and historical event for this country,” he told MPs.
“The reality is that president Trump is the democratically-elected leader of our most important ally and the relationship has enormous consequences for the security and prosperity of all our constituents.
“Of course we should welcome him, and of course we should be absolutely professional in ensuring the security arrangements for such an important visit are robust and fit for purpose.”
He admitted that as well as “significant” short-term costs, the presidential visit will affect the management of British police forces for a much longer period as officers are transported back to their home counties and given the time off due.
Several MPs raised concerns over the impact on areas police are being removed from, while accusing the government of reducing the number of police officers in England and Wales to “unsustainable levels”.
Officer numbers have fallen by around 21,000 since 2010 and leaders have warned of increasing demand from rising 999 calls, violent crime and the terror threat.
Simon Kempton, the Police Federation’s operational policing lead, said: “While the officers on mutual aid are deployed elsewhere, thousands more of their colleagues left behind in their home force will be expected to pick up the slack, leaving them even more stretched…there was a time when we could do it all but now choices have to be made.”
Mr Hurd said the government had increased policing funding with a new settlement and was in talks with chief constables and Police and Crime Commissioners about future arrangements.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has appealed to the public only to call 999 “in a genuine emergency” over the coming days.
“Police chiefs are working to balance support for the presidential visit, and policing any associated protests, with responding to calls for help from the public and minimising the impact on local police services,” Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said. “Unfortunately, this means officers’ rest days have been cancelled and many will be working extended 12-hour shifts.
“This is a busy week for policing across the country so please only call 999 in a genuine emergency.”
During Mr Trump’s trip he will meet the Queen and Theresa May as he visits locations including Blenheim Palace, Chequers, Windsor Castle, the US ambassador’s official residence in Regent’s Park, London and Scotland.