Ever wondered how much planning goes into policing on a match day? Superintendent Alistair Roe explains how the level of policing is decided for each match.
Who decides the level of policing at football matches? Club or police?
Each game is categorised using a national model and not all forces apply the same resources to each category. Once the fixtures are released, the club and the police will agree the categories for each game, however, this sometimes can alter due to TV changes.
Resourcing is paid for by the club within a certain footprint area; some of this may be paid for by the police.
The categories are:
- Club Security
- Police spotters
- CAT A
- CAT B
- CAT C
- CAT CIR (Increased Risk).
Is the level of policing different depending on the visiting clubs? If so, what is this based on?
Yes, it’s based on intelligence and constant reviewing. Dedicated football officers talk to each other and use data that is available to them via a number of systems.
The policing level on match days is based on a number of other things too:
- Home support
- Importance of the game
- Clash with other events within the area or that might impact on the journey of the fans.
At times it can feel like there is too much of a police presence at games, how do you make sure the balance is right?
The police are there to support the club and promote public safety. Leicestershire Police's role is to engage with fans and ensure they have a positive experience. Officers will be in relaxed uniform and not all officers are deployed at the same time or place. We don’t put them in the ground unless it's necessary.
Do the police ever take a zero tolerance approach when it comes to policing a football match? If so why?
Inside the ground, everything is the stewards' responsibility this includes:
- Persistent standing
- Racist chanting/homophobic chanting
When things are reported they are dealt with in the correct manner – this could sometimes mean an arrest a few days after the initial incident.
You tend not to see too many fights taking place at football grounds these days; however we all know they do still take place away from grounds. What are the police doing to stop this happening?
We have banning orders in place, certain people are not allowed to be in certain places and their passports are taken away. We have intelligence based resource deployment to aid us in preventing disorder. We also ensure we have a visible presence, spotters on site and we make an arrest when necessary.
What would make a police officer’s role easier on a match day?
For fans to provide less of a need for police to be there in the first place. The culture is different to rugby. A minority of supporters need to behave better, on and off the pitch. Incidents involving players on the pitch may be the catalyst for poor behaviour.
How has policing a football match changed over the years?
It’s more intelligently planned. There have been some improvements between the club and the force. The broadcasting of matches has changed timings and has an impact on the need for resources, i.e. the need for police at a football match on a Friday night instead of policing a busy city centre.
The introduction of crowd monitoring and crowd dynamics has also helped a great deal. Crowd movement and intelligence gathering allows the force and club to look for specific individuals, including people with banning orders and missing person(s).
People's awareness has also improved. We can better utilise football spotters and we can pull information regarding people and situations quickly. We have better travel facilities and technology making it easier to gather information and locate people. We have HD CCTV and a more improved, proactive use of social media and supporter engagement.
Generally there is less violence at football matches and there is less trouble due to the number of fans holding season tickets.
Superintendent Alistair Roe takes you behind the scenes of the control room ahead of the first game of the season: