Taxpayers support DSEI in a number of ways. The two main avenues are via policing costs and the UK Government's arms export unit, UKTI DSO (UK Trade & Investment's Defence & Security Organisation. UKTI is part of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills). There are other costs to the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office but these have not been quantified recently.
UKTI stated that its budget for DSEI 2009 was around £200,000. It acknowledged that "some travel costs may be met from other budgets but these are not held centrally."
A Metropolitan Police response to a Freedom of Information request estimated policing costs at £1.8 million for DSEI 2007. For the previous two DSEIs, in 2003 and 2005, the cost was reported to be around £4 million.
Information sources by department and year
In answer to a parliamentary question by Caroline Lucas, Mark Prisk stated (23 June 2011) "Costs associated with hosting official overseas delegations invited by Government to attend DSEI '11 will be met by the organisers. UKTI DSO will part fund a Capability Showcase which is expected to cost around £100,000. This will at least be in part offset by income from industry in support of the showcase and other support. No direct costs, other than staff time and related staff travel expenses, will be incurred on hosting official delegations." Costs for staff time and travel expenses were not provided.
In response to a Freedom of Information request to UKTI about its budget for supporting DSEI 2009, UKTI stated it was "around £200,000. Some travel costs may be met from other budgets but these are not held centrally." The full FoI response is available here (PDF).
In a 18 July 2011 response to a Parliamentary Question by Caroline Lucas, Nick Herbert stated that the Home Office had not made an estimate of the cost of policing DSEI 2011 as it was a matter for the Metropolitan police. A previous Parliamentary answer (of 21 June 2011) stated that the only costs incurred by the Home Office "will be the possible costs of travel and subsistence incurred by visiting staff."
In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Metropolitan Police stated (2.10.2007) "The estimated total cost of the policing operation, to the MPS is £1.8m. £1.2m of the estimate is in relation to opportunity costs... £0.6m is additional costs of which £0.4m is overtime, £0.2m is non-pay costs... The operation involved 4,475 police officer shifts and 294 police staff shifts."
In an article in The Independent (22.8.2005), the head of the Met's central operations said "It is going to cost £4m with no money coming from the exhibition because the protests are taking place outside." He also stated, "It is denuding London of policing at a time of unprecedented demand. The defence industry makes huge profits. I think we should be getting some money from the people exhibiting inside the centre. At the moment the taxpayers are having to pay. I don't think it looks right or is right."
A parliamentary question from Lord Hylton asked "What was the total cost to public funds, including expenditure on policing and security, of the recent [DSEI]". The 14 October 2003 answer stated: "The Metropolitan Police estimate a total of £1.48 million in additional pay and other costs associated with policing the event. British Transport Police estimate their cost of policing the event as £250,000. As above, the final cost remains to be established."
When a final cost of policing was established several months later, the cost to taxpayers had reached £4.4 million (Thewharf.co.uk, 5.2.2004).
Ministry of Defence
In answer to a parliamentary question by Caroline Lucas, Gerald Howarth stated (23 June 2011) "In support of this event the Ministry of Defence (MOD) will be providing two Royal Navy ships which will participate as part of the Royal Navy's routine military tasking. The MOD will provide a small team of military personnel to support UKTI DSO with the administrative arrangements for the event, for which we will meet the staff costs." He did not provide costs.
A parliamentary question from Nick Harvey asked "what the estimated cost of the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition is to the public purse." The 29 June 2007 answer stated "The costs of hosting official overseas delegations at DSEIO7 will largely be met by the organisers. The balance of these costs met from Defence funds is expected to be in the region of £120,000. Other MOD costs will be met from a number of budgets and an estimate of these cannot be centrally made. No estimate has been made of costs for which MOD is not responsible." [UKTI DSO was part of the MoD until 1 April 2008]
A parliamentary question from Vince Cable asked for the cost of servicing DSEI. The 19 October 2005 answer stated that the cost of hosting official overseas delegations was largely met by the exhibition organisers, Spearhead Exhibitions Ltd. "The balance of these costs, currently estimated to be approximately £110,000, was met from Defence funds. Personnel-related costs, mainly travel and subsistence, and minor costs for equipment movement not covered by commercial sponsorship, were met by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) from a number of budgets and have not been centrally identified."
A parliamentary question from Lord Hylton asked for the costs and the 14 October 2005 answer stated: "The direct cost to the Ministry of Defence identified centrally has been estimated at some £400,000. The final cost remains to be established."
Parliamentary Question from Vince Cable, answered 18 September 2003
Parliamentary Question from Jeremy Corbyn, answered 20 May 2003
In answer to a parliamentary question by Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Browne stated (29 June 2011) that the Foreign Office "will not incur any costs in relation to the Defence and Security International Exhibition." However, there will be a staff commitment, which presumably falls outside the definition of "costs".