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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

Police authorities: specific activities: sporting and other events

The Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 requires local authorities to issue safety certificates for ‘designated stadia’ in their area. This will include any terms and conditions they consider necessary. Designated stadia are those that accommodate more than a certain number of spectators.

Although there is no obligation for the certificate to include policing, many do impose conditions that require the attendance of police officers at each event. It is then up to the police, the local authority and the event organisers to determine the level of policing that will be present, but the ultimate decision rests with the Chief Constable.

Where a safety certificate makes it obligatory for the holder to request the presence of the police this creates a statutory monopoly in which case attendance is a non-business activity. However, a certificate that also allows the use of a private sector security firm does not create a special legal regime and so the attendance of police in these circumstances is a business activity. The police are able to charge for the increased police presence in a public place outside a stadium when an event is to take place. Because this provides a benefit for local people not attending the event this is considered to be a non-business activity.

Off-street shopping centres are normally privately owned and the police patrol at the request of the centre managers. Private security firms can also provide a similar service. It is therefore a business supply where a charge is made and is standard-rated.