Police want more money from football clubs

 

Football clubs could face a rise in policing costs after fresh claims that matches can spark disorder and crime far beyond stadiums and surrounding streets.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) say research commissioned by them concluded that trouble on match days could be attributed to football.

Assistant chief constable Andy Holt, who leads ACPO on football policing, told BBC Radio Five Live: "My personal view is that the clubs should bear a greater burden of the costs for the overall policing of football."

Presently, clubs are responsible for the costs of policing in and around stadiums, and any further demands could lead to conflict with the football authorities.

ACPO have yet to publish the research but Holt defended the move to investigate the situation, saying: "This research is about enabling us to have an informed discussion with football clubs to determine the most fair and equitable way of policing football.

"We have a very productive working relationship with the football clubs and I want that to continue.

"But it is still the case that on occasion we have violence and disorder in town centres and transport interchanges that are associated with rival football fans, that causes a problem to local communities and is a drain on police resources.

"I think it's right and proper that we understand the extent of that problem which is why we commissioned this research, and we use the results of the research to inform our discussions with the clubs."

He added: "We were always challenged when we said that football contributed to an increase in crime and disorder on match days, and hard-headed businessmen in the Premier League and the Football League quite rightly said, 'What evidence do you have of that?'

"Most senior football commanders would say, 'I know there to be an increase in crime and disorder', but they didn't have the empirical evidence to prove it."

The research was conducted by a team from University College London, led by Professional Nick Tilley.

Holt said: "I'm quite comfortable that that research will stand scrutiny as entirely correct and it shows that on a match day there is an increase in crime and disorder associated with football in a wider area than just the footprint.

"There are some clubs that cause very few problems to police forces up and down country. Other clubs, that is not the case.

"You have to have a negotiation with individual clubs that will come up with an appropriate response.

"I can't sit here and say you're going to have the same costing and charging regime across the piece.

"The ACPO policy remains extant. We have an agreement that stemmed from a judgement which involved Greater Manchester Police and Wigan Football Club. We stand by that, but in future discussions we will be making reference to the research that we've commissioned."

In December 2008, Wigan won their court battle over a £300,000 policing bill, complaining that Greater Manchester Police overcharged them for covering match days at the JJB Stadium.

By a 2-1 majority, appeal judges ruled that the club had been charged for special police services which they had not requested.

The court heard that Wigan used to be charged for special policing services they requested inside the stadium. But then the police also demanded payment for the area surrounding the stadium.

PA

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