Suffolk police is being sued by Ipswich Town at the High Court for charges related to matchday policing

Portman Road

Portman Road - Credit: Mike Page

Suffolk’s biggest football club is challenging the fees it has paid for policing the area around Portman Road on match days at the High Court in London.

Ipswich Town has brought the claim to the court, saying it is unlawful for Suffolk Constabulary to charge for ordinary policing on the public highway and it is not entitled to charge for the provision of “special police services” on these occasions.

The club’s lawyers want Mr Justice Green to make a declaration in its favour over its claim for more than £200,000 which relates to policing between 2008 and 2013.

Suffolk Constabulary have countered with a claim that the club owes it £96,000 in unpaid invoices for the policing of public highway adjoining and outside the stadium, mainly including Portman Road and Sir Alf Ramsey Way.

It says that the test of whether the land is “owned, leased or controlled” is the correct one for determining whether it is carrying out special police services and that the club controls the public highway.

But, Ipswich says the correct test is whether policing is conducted on public, as opposed to private, land and - in any case - it did not “control” the public highway.

The judge was told by Dijen Basu QC, for the police, that given the sheer number of people who attended matches at Portman Road, with an average attendance of 19,603, they were very peaceful indeed.

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On home match days, the town centre required additional levels of policing at considerably greater cost which, it was accepted, could not be charged for.

He said that the club made a profit in the last financial year of £5.3 million before tax and its turnover was £16.4 million while Suffolk Constabulary had a budget of about £150 million to police the whole of the county.

“We judge the police harshly where they fall short and we make little allowance for financial strictures.”

The two-day hearing in London is only concerned with liability and the amount of any award will be decided at a later date.

It comes three years after West Yorkshire Police lost its appeal over payment for policing at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground.

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