THE Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo chief has called for a change to the way event organisers are charged for policing after seeing costs for the event soar.

Brigadier David Allfrey, the chief executive and producer of the annual event staged on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, accused police of “legalised racketeering”.

He added that his event was effectively “subsidising the police” and that other events, such as music festivals and the Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations were also feeling the pinch.

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Allfrey said that policing costs for the event have risen by 168 per cent in the last five years, jeopardising the future expansion of the event, which opens on August 4 and runs for the majority of the month.

And after revealing that it will cost the Tattoo an average of £49 per hour for each officer on duty, he is now calling for an overhaul of how event organisers are being charged to have a police presence.

“My argument is that it is unreasonable to charge events and festivals anything more than any extra costs they are incurring,” he told the Scotland on Sunday.

“They shouldn’t be subsidising the police. This has all come about from the principle that if you are charging an entry fee you should be charged for public services.

“What needs to happen is a sensible debate between policy-makers and the events industry.”

Allfrey continued that he is aware that Police Scotland are also under pressure to make ends meet though added that this should not come at the expense of any future growth of the Tattoo, which is estimated to be worth more than £100 million to the economy.

“I understand the need to balance police budgets but as a business we’re being encouraged to grow as an event and to contribute more to Scottish tourism.

“It is counter-intuitive to grow and then be charged more for public services because that inhibits growth,” he said. “I’m not suggesting for a moment it is legalised racketeering but it amounts to pretty much the same thing. It’s effectively the police and the licensing authority marking their own homework which doesn’t seem to sit quite right.”

The Tattoo is one of the biggest draws at the Edinburgh Festival and dates back as far as 1950 and sells more than 220,000 tickets every year during the busiest month of the calendar for the capital.

An SPA spokeswoman said: “We approved a policy in 2013 to recover the full costs of providing police services at commercial events, where the organiser, company or organisation may intend to make a profit.

“This brings consistency to previous diverse approaches taken in legacy forces, and ensures a level playing field across the country.”

Allfrey, added: "This debate was never about the police services provided to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We enjoy a wonderful relationship with Police Scotland year on year. 

"We are keen to encourage a sensible, logical and nuanced discussion with the relevant authorities about the formulas for costing and charging for police service to all events and festivals - all of which form an important part of our national cultural fabric and routine.  The police service is outstanding but it also needs to be affordable."

Organisers are planning to expand the event by taking it worldwide to markets in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. Negotiations are believed to already be underway with China to stage the Tattoo there in 2020.

WeChat, the dominant social media platform in China, is already being exploited by the event organisers, with the intent of launch a new live ticketing booth system through WeChat Pay.

The feature is specifically for Chinese customers who intend to visit Edinburgh and the Tattoo while raising its profile before staging it there.