Policing Assange: Where will it end?

The costs of policing Julian Assange’s residency at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London soar to beyond £4.2 million

 

By the time of the first anniversary of Julian Assange’s arrival at the Ecuadorean Embassy in Hans Crescent on 19th June, the cost of policing his “stay” will have come to the astounding sum of over £4,200,000.

 

At any one time there are eight officers on duty and a police conference van has been parked opposite the embassy building for many months now also.

 

Police have been waiting for Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy for nearly one year
Police have been waiting for Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy for nearly one year

A police conference van is permanently parked opposite the embassy building
A police conference van is permanently parked opposite the embassy building

The daily cost is said to be around £11,600 and at least one officer waits on the steps of the embassy at all times ready to arrest Mr Assange if he leaves the buildings. Others are said to question visitors inside ready to question the Wikileaks founder during opening hours, in case he should decide to try and escape in disguise.

 

Support for Assange outside the building has dwindled. As someone who regularly walks past the building, I often get a wave from the somewhat reduced band who stand in vigil. There’s never more than five of them at anyone time and sometimes there aren’t any at all. One, a retired railway inspector named Jim Curran, is there most days however and equally a jolly little lady never misses a chance to enthuse about the man she describes as “wrongly persecuted”.

 

Back in June 2013, huge numbers gathered to support Julian Assange
Back in June 2013, huge numbers gathered to support Julian Assange

Their number included individuals who masked their true identities
Their number included individuals who masked their true identities

Only around four to six supporters gather outside the Ecuadorean Embassy each day now
Only around four to six supporters gather outside the Ecuadorean Embassy each day now

Today Mr Assange's support is limited to a small but devoted group that includes retired railway inspector Jim Curran (right)
Today Mr Assange’s support is limited to a small but devoted group that includes retired railway inspector Jim Curran (right)

In conversations I’ve had with the police, though, they’ve repeatedly stated their frustration at having to stand around waiting for Mr Assange to emerge. One told me that he thought the whole situation was “getting ridiculous” and another added: “We just wish he’d clear off back to Australia”.

 

Mr Assange: You’ve made your point. Your presence in Knightsbridge has cost millions and now it’s time to hand yourself in and face the music. If you are innocent, after all, you’ve got nothing to fear.

 

 

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All images © Matthew Steeples

  1. two points arising from this. one, surely the police operation is totally over the top. 8 officers and a conference van, really? this is a waste of resource by any measure. such tactics in themselves point to a broader agenda. no other bail jumper would have this level of resource dedicated to them one year on. And an appeal to Assange to come out because it has cost us so much seems strange.
    Second, ‘if you are innocent, you’ve got nothing to fear’ seems somewhat naive. Would you say that to anyone in Guantanamo Bay? Are you aware of extraordinary rendition? Both of these, both outside the judicial system, were undertaken by America. If you think America wouldn’t stoop to false accusation tactics to apprehend a perceived enemy of the state, you are very trusting.
    Personally, I have no idea if Assange is innocent or not of what he’s been accused. But there’s no denying, this has shut him up, shut him down, and withered his support base. Now, who might be interested in doing that?

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