2 September 2007
London's safety questioned as police resources diverted to arms fair
London police will be especially over-stretched next week when up to 4,000 officers are expected to be deployed at an arms fair in east London. The biennial fair, Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi), has cost the Metropolitan Police over £4million on each of the last two occasions it has been held. DSEi will take place at the Excel Centre from Tuesday 11th - Friday 14th September, with over 1,200 companies expected to promote weaponry from handguns to fighter jets.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) spokesperson Symon Hill said:
"The public will be sickened to hear that instead of tackling gun crime the police will be guarding gunrunners. This exposes the real nature of the arms trade. As well as fuelling war around the world, it is a threat to our security and a drain on our economy."
DSEi's future looks increasingly uncertain, as both of its organisers have responded to public pressure. DSEi's owner Reed Elsevier is selling its arms fair business and the Prime Minister is to close the Government unit that helps to organise DSEi. CAAT has insisted that this must be DSEi's last year and is organising a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday 11th September.ENDS
1. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.
2. Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) is held every two years at the Excel Centre in East London. The cost of policing it has in the past been placed at over £4million, with up to 4,000 officers said to be involved (see the Financial Times - 30.09.05, Guardian -12.09.05 and Times - 13.09.05). Assistant Commissioner Steve House said in 2005 that DSEi was "denuding London of policing at a time of unprecedented demand".
3. CAAT is organising a peaceful demonstration against DSEi, with a march from Plaistow Park to the Excel Centre at 11.00am on Tuesday 11th September. There will be other actions against DSEi, including a musical protest on Saturday 8th September and a multifaith vigil on Monday 10th September.
4. DSEi is owned by Reed Elsevier. Following a public campaign Reed announced on 1st June that it would sell its arms fairs by the end of 2007. On 25th July, the Prime Minister responded to campaigning by CAAT and other groups and announced his intention to close the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), a Government unit which promotes sales for private arms companies and is heavily involved in the organisation of DSEi.
5. CAAT spokespeople are available for interview about DSEi.
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