Advantage police over ticket touts

WIMBLEDON tennis authorities appear to be winning the war against the ticket touts despite the emergence of a new aggressive breed of operator.

Black market prices outside the All England Club were at rock bottom yesterday as the first week of the tournament came to an end. Many touts said business had never been so bad.

Chris Gorringe, chief executive, of the All England Club, said: 'We are winning the war against the touts on three fronts.

'There are fewer touts on the streets, fewer adverts in the papers for tickets before Wimbledon and less unofficial corporate hospitality near the grounds,' he said.

In the suburban streets around the club ground in south-west London, the touts were still out in large numbers. Along the mile-long walk from Southfields underground station to the club, visitors were being accosted up to 20 times.

Police said the touts, especially near Southfields station, were more aggressive, with a new, younger type of entrepreneur harassing tennis fans to buy or sell tickets.

Chief Inspector Phil Coates, who is in charge of the police operation at the championships, said: ''They stand in your way and try to intimidate you into a sale - they are more of a football match type of tout.'

Some of the old-hand Wimbledon touts with their suits, mobile phones and ample stomachs - known as 'bellies' to the young upstarts - said the newcomers were giving touting a bad name.

'They are 'Millwalls' who don't know how to operate and just put you off by getting in your face,' said one man in Ray-Bans who was clutching a mobile phone, who nevertheless gave his profession as 'greengrocer'.

Mr Coates said police had put new emphasis on prevention and intervention aimed at ensuring money did not change hands.

'We are succeeding in stopping street sales. We are making the touts' life very difficult and they don't like it,' he said.

The police said only 18 people had been served summonses by the local council for touting activities in the first five days - a measure of how police and guards from Wimbledon security firm Shorrock had suppressed business.

'Having pushed the touts back towards Southfields, we have now put extra officers there to drive them even further away,' Mr Coates explained.

The asking price on the streets for a pair of centre court tickets for men's finals day next weekend, which have been selling for more than pounds 2,000 in the run-up to the tournament, had dropped to pounds 500 today.

'Prices have fallen to the floor - there is nothing happening. The punters are too nervous,' one tout said.

'This is the quietest Wimbledon I have ever known. I have hardly made a sale.'

Others raged against what they saw as the unfair rules on ticket sales imposed by the All England club. 'You can sell Ecstasy, you can sell cocaine, you could even sell your kid into slavery on the streets of Wimbledon - but can you sell tickets? No,' one disgruntled free- marketeer said.

But there have been some successes for the touts - police said one foreign tennis fan paid pounds 400 for a pair of stolen centre court tickets - they did not gain him entry.

In addition to the police anti-tout squad, Shorrock guards patrol the queues equipped with cameras producing a 'rogues' gallery' of suspects used later for identification purposes.

There has been only one arrest so far - when a man objected to having his photo taken by a Shorrock guard and smashed the camera.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent