Recently, the Football Supporters’ Federation have stated that the attitude of some police forces to football fans is stuck twenty five years in the past. It says while many forces have a positive approach, some match commanders still use heavy handed tactics and treat all fans as potential hooligans. It says it wants officers who regularly cover games to be trained in football fan culture and for official guidance on policing to be better followed.
Personally, in over a hundred games home and away I can only claim to have any issues with the Nottinghamshire Police Force on an away trip to Forest. They chose to barricade the exit and escort all those not on coaches to the station to be put on a train to Birmingham. This was a particular issue for me as I don’t live in Birmingham and had to make a run for it to get to my car. Instead of managing the situation they treated the entire away support as criminals who needed deporting out of the city as soon as possible.
I’ve never had a particular issue with the policing at home matches although sometimes I think that the way fans are directed can cause more problems than are solved. Below are other fans’ experiences.
“The police tend to just ‘stand there’ and not particularly do anything. They will either stand in a line against the buildings opposite the away entrance or they’ll stand between the away entrance and the road to ‘shepherd’ fans down the street – but there isn’t a major presence at the bottom of the road, so it really doesn’t serve any purpose. Not that there’s been much trouble between fans at St. Andrew’s for a while.”
“Then there are the traffic issues. You’d expect them to be able to marshal the traffic somewhat to stop irate Small Heath locals from slowly nudging people walking away from the stadium, and then also to stop traffic coming off the ‘McDonalds’ island that seems to come off at speed whilst fans are crossing.”
“Two seasons ago at the Wolves a home supporter in the upper tier, was spitting at Blues fans as they made their way on to the concourse. As I was stood next to an officer of the law at the time, I asked him what he was going to do about it. He shrugged his shoulders and said ‘there’s nothing I can do about it’.”
“On away trips to Villa they allow both sets of fans to mingle with each other before and after the game. This leads to huge and unnecessary confrontations before and after the game. Instead of stopping the trouble, they stood back filming it. The WMP seem happier to allow fans to fight each other, so that they can film it and ban as many people as possible at a later date.”
“Away from the West Midlands, Nottinghamshire Police and South Yorkshire Police hold the mantle as the two worst I have experienced. Nottinghamshire Police started a near riot before we played Forest in 2008 outside of the Notts County ground, and then allowed one of their dogs to maul a Blues fan on the slow walk to the ground, for having the audacity of simply walking past the dog. After the game at Long Eaton station, they allowed Forest fans to try and have a pop at Blues fans on the train before dragging a Blues fan off and ramming his head into the floor 3 times. South Yorkshire Police were just unfriendly”
“All Police forces need to take a leaf out of the Metropolitan Police Force’s book. Their treatment of Blues fans to and from Upton Park for the League Cup Semi was fantastic, as was the Cup final and Millwall away last year. They are friendly, helpful and can have a laugh, whilst being firm if they need to be. Surely that is what all officers of the law should be.”