Published: 06/06/2012 21:32 - Updated: 06/06/2012 21:43

Festival fun helps Highland cops balance books

Written byby Hugh Ross

Preparations for this weekend's RockNess are under way. Policing music festivals helps keep Northern Constabulary in the black.
Preparations for this weekend's RockNess are under way. Policing music festivals helps keep Northern Constabulary in the black.

MAJOR music festivals and new wind farms in the Highlands have helped Northern Constabulary save £2 million in the last year, it has emerged.

Policing huge outdoor events like this weekend’s RockNess event near Inverness - and providing patrol cars to accompany HGVs transporting massive turbines for multimillion-pound renewable schemes has kept the force in the black.

The Northern Joint Police Board, which met in Inverness on Wednesday heard that £2 million out a revenue budget of £51.5m for 2011/12 was underspent.

About £1.4 million of the savings have already been returned to the local authorities which help subsidise the force including Highland Council and its counterpart organisations in the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney.

Scores of officers are needed to police the thousands of revellers who attend several large music festivals and one-off concerts which are annually held in the region including the three-day RockNess event, Tartan Heart at Belladrum near Beauly and Loopallu in Ullapool.

There has also been a plethora of new wind farms established in recent years and police officers have had to provide escorts for wide loads.

The public purse should not be subsiding private enterprise, says Andy Cowie
The public purse should not be subsiding private enterprise, says Andy Cowie

Andy Cowie, the force’s deputy chief constabale, did not know how much cash had been raised from the policing of festivals or wide load escorts.

"The public purse should not be subsiding private enterprise", said the senior officer, who added the balance sheet had also been helped by a fall in the number of officers retiring though ill health.

The budget was also helped by renting out space on the force’s radio masts to mobile phone companies.

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