Government papers: Cost of policing Troubles almost doubled in decade

A Military Policeman accompanies a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary

A Military Policeman accompanies a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary

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A 1984 assessment of the cost of the Government’s security found that in the decade from 1976 to 1986 (which at that point was projecting two years into the future), expenditure on police and prisons had massively increased.

After being adjusted for inflation, the cost of the police had gone from £126 million to £234 million – a rise of 86 per cent.

And the assessment, prepared at the request of the Secretary of State after a request from the Treasury, found that prison costs had similarly soared, rising from £39 million to £67 million.

The figures also showed that expenditure on criminal damage compensation declined sharply as violence fell – down from £40 million in 1974 to a forecast £20 million in 1983.

However, in correspondence between senior NIO and Treasury officials about the cost of security policy in Northern Ireland, NIO official SG Norris said: “We must recognise, however, that the Government’s response to the security situation in Northern Ireland is very much determined by ministerial judgments of what is likely to be both effective and politically acceptable.

“Detailed financial considerations may not loom large in their decision making.”

A review of security policy in 1983 said that since the end of the republican hunger strike in 1981 “terrorist violence has rested on something of a plateau”.

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