Policing row over Gillingham match with Swindon resolved

 

Football fans will be allowed to attend a League Two match after a row over policing costs was resolved.

A prohibition notice was issued by Medway Council last week preventing supporters from attending Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium in Kent this Saturday for the match against Swindon Town following "serious concerns" about potential public order risks at the ground and a row over policing costs.

Intelligence suggested the risk was so serious that fans would not be able to attend the match unless the dispute between Kent Police and Gillingham over the costs and number of officers needed was resolved, Medway Council said.

Today councillor Mike O'Brien, who is responsible for community safety and customer contact, said Kent Police had informed the council the required number of officers would be in the ground on Saturday.

He said: "We are pleased to say that Kent Police have informed us that the dispute over costs of policing at the Gillingham FC v Swindon Town match this Saturday have been resolved and the required numbers of police officers needed will be in the ground on the day.

"Last week, Medway Council was left with no option but to issue a prohibition notice stating that fans could not attend the match until steps were taken to resolve this.

"We did this at the time following advice from Kent Police that they have specific intelligence concerning the match and its fans.

"The council will now contact the club and the police to clarify that this order allows for the match to go ahead this Saturday with fans from both sides attending as long as there are sufficient police in the grounds.

"We are pleased that the police and the club have reached a resolution as this is good news for supporters from both sides and means they will be able to attend and watch the game with enough police there to make sure it is safe for all."

Swindon put their full allocation of tickets on sale on Saturday morning and were selling them "as if the fixture will proceed as per the original schedule" for a 3pm kick-off.

A statement on Swindon's website said it was in close dialogue with Gillingham over the fixture.

Kent Police said it was "not acceptable" to expect taxpayers to subsidise a commercial event and that Gillingham must foot the bill.

Chief Superintendent Alasdair Hope said: "The safety of all fans attending this football match is our main priority and we are not prepared for their safety to be compromised.

"The provision of an appropriate number of police officers inside the stadium is essential, and the cost of this must be met by Gillingham FC.

"To expect Kent Police and the taxpayer to subsidise a commercial event is not acceptable. Commercial enterprises across the country pay for the policing of their events, including football matches, and no one is exempt."

PA

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