Games bill for police may top $150,000

SAM BOYER
Last updated 05:00 09/08/2012

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Five senior Kiwi police staff sent to the London Olympics with no enforcement powers could end up costing taxpayers more than $150,000 - with their accommodation alone costing $842 a person a night.

The men - two inspectors, two detective inspectors and a non-sworn member of the National Intelligence Centre - have no police authority while in London, acting only as plainclothes "liaison officers" to our athletes and the New Zealand High Commission.

They are based at the rowing in Eton, the sailing in Weymouth, the high commission and the Olympic village.

Police would not say last month how much was being spent on the trip, but information obtained under the Official Information Act shows police are spending almost $1000 a person a day on four of the men's accommodation and allowances.

The fifth officer is based in the Olympic village and had his flights and accommodation costs funded through the New Zealand Olympic Committee. Those costs have not been made available, although the NZOC is also partly government-funded.

The liaison officers arrived in London on July 7 - three weeks before the Games began - and return home between August 14 and August 31.

One officer, who will stay on for the Paralympic Games, will return on September 12. His accommodation costs beyond August 14 have not yet been confirmed.

Between July 7 and 26 the four men funded by police stayed in accommodation costing $516 each a night. From July 27 till August 14 that rose to $842.

By comparison, a night in a Mayfair suite complete with lounge and balcony at the Hilton on Park Lane would cost $802 for August 13, the final night of their arranged accommodation.

The liaison officers also receive $149 each a day for expenses. Return economy flights for the four staff funded by police cost $3284.40 each.

Total costs for their accommodation, flights and daily allowances come to $145,676. That does not include the Paralympics liaison officer's accommodation, or flights and accommodation for the fifth officer funded by the NZOC.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said a police presence at foreign events was important for international relations, but said the costs seemed high, especially considering police budgets were being cut.

Labour Party police spokesman Kris Faafoi said he hoped the police had done their research to keep costs down.

"It's $1000 a day [per person]: that's a lot of money.

"We do need to send some security with the team to keep them safe. [But] I'd hope they'd looked at it as cheaply as they could, especially as they're doing some penny-pinching back home."

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- The Dominion Post

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