Black Friday UK: 'Police have better things to do than breaking up fights over TVs' - police chief

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police hit out at retailers

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The Independent Online

One of Britain’s most senior police officers has lambasted retailers for not doing enough to prevent “totally predictable” Black Friday chaos.

Shoppers were filmed fighting over bargains at supermarkets across the country and one woman was injured by a falling television.

Several supermarkets had to be shut in the early hours of this morning as police were called in to control crowds who had been queuing for hours to get the best bargains.

Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, criticised shops for failing to provide enough security, saying the mayhem should have been expected.

“The events of last night were totally predictable and I am disappointed that stores did not have sufficient security staff on duty,” he added.

"This created situations where we had to deal with crushing, disorder and disputes between customers.

“It does not help that this was in the early hours when police resources are already stretched.”

Sir Peter tweeted saying he was disappointed that major retailers did not learn lessons from similar scenes last year, adding “our officers have enough to do already”.

He said: “Across Greater Manchester large supermarkets already make significant demands on policing through calls to shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and thefts of fuel from their petrol stations - much of which is preventable.

"We just ask these stores to work with us to reduce the demands on policing and reduce the risks of disorder and crime."

Seven Tesco stores in the Greater Manchester area saw disorder. Several hundred people reportedly tried to storm the Wigan branch, while more than 500 shoppers descended in Ashton Road West.

The Tesco in Ellesmere Shopping Centre in Walkden had to be closed down because of overcrowding and the Tesco Extra in Stretford was shut just half an hour after opening its doors after fights broke out between shoppers and a woman was injured by a falling television.

Police were called to Tesco on Woodrow Way, Salford, and one man was arrested on suspicion of assault.

Sir Peter Fahy said supermarkets should have prevented the chaos

At Tesco Extra on Barton Road, Middleton, officers had to intervene after 200 people refused to leave despite being told it was sold out.

Police went to the Tesco Extra on Stockport Road, Hattersley, following reports of fighting. One man was arrested for a public order offence.

A 42-year-old man was arrested shortly after midnight at the Tesco Burnage superstore on suspicion of assault, while another man was arrested after reports of brawls in a 300-strong crowd at the branch in Hattersley.

A third man was arrested shortly after 1am at a Tesco store on Woodrow Way, Salford, after he threatened to “smash” a staff member’s face in, police said.

Following the chaos, a Tesco source insisted they "work closely" with police and take guidance on security measures in stores, adding: "We will work with them following this event to make any improvements for next year."

The supermarket chain had hailed the promotion as "its biggest ever Black Friday event", with discounts of up to 70 per cent on 200 electrical, entertainment, DIY and toy products.

A spokesperson said: "Over 600 Tesco stores have Black Friday offers available in store.

“In the interest of customer safety a small number of these stores contacted police last night to help control crowds safely and stores are now trading normally.”