London: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's security studying at the prestigious Oxford University could cost the country's taxpayers as much as ₤1 million annually.
Police chiefs are said to be concerned that the cost of providing a 24-hour armed guard for Bilawal will be a drain on already overstretched Scotland Yard resources.
A police source told the Sunday Express, ''His protection will cost ₤1 million a year minimum. Talk of it being in line with Prince William's and other royals is way off the mark. The cost will be stratospheric by comparison.
''The kind of protection he will be afforded is on par with the likes of Rushdie and KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky,” the source said.
The 19-year-old Oxford undergraduate became Britain's most high-profile terrorist target, since author Salman Rushdie, after being named co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the wake of his mother's assassination in December.
Although Scotland Yard has refused to comment on Bilawal’s protection, it is understood that a risk assessment was out by a detective inspector, according to the newspaper.
The report added that Bilawal qualified for the top level of protection, which includes a close Protection Team (CPT) of 12 armed officers in two vehicles working eight-hour shifts. All CPT teams are SAS-trained and carry 9mm Glock pistols.
Royalty and diplomatic protection units are so under-staffed that some officers are having to work 40 days without a break, sources said.
Tory MP David Davies, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the wealthy Bhutto family should help foot the bill for Bilawal’s protection.
Shadow policing minister David Ruffley added, ''Of course, this young man must receive the protection he needs from terrorists but I am sure many hard-pressed police, who are already struggling against budget cuts, might wonder whether the Bhutto family should make a contribution.''