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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'