CPST meeting with the police – summary
MEETING WITH THE POLICE – CROYDON POLICE STATION – 15 JULY 2014
On15 July 2014 representatives of the Crystal Palace Supporters’ Trust met with Chief Inspector Duncan Slade of Croydon Police and PC Mike Dorans from the Central Football Unit at Scotland Yard. The meeting was arranged to help better understand policing at football matches and to seek to improve relations with the police in the interests of all Palace supporters.
The delay in issuing the summary was due to awaiting police approval of the minutes made at the meeting, this was because of changes in staffing and roles at Croydon police.
- Planning policing operations for football matches is the responsibility of the Match Day Commander, usually a Chief Inspector or above who has undertaken specialist training. PC Mike Dorans is a football planner and assists the match commander for Palace matches, and acts as a conduit for receiving and providing information, including that helpful to supporters such as alerts to engineering works and traffic delays.
- The match planning starts following the publication of the fixture list. Although the Central Footballing Unit may attend and contribute to the fixtures meeting in Preston, neither the Croydon Borough or Mike Dorans has any say in the resulting fixtures. Each match is graded individually on previous history, recent behaviour of supporters and current information concerning that fixture. Several factors therefore are examined before a match category is agreed on.
- For Palace matches, the police and club have weekly meetings and plan ahead with resources decided about 6 weeks in advance. Sometimes specialist support is required, although this is not envisaged for this season. The British Transport Police are also contacted about operations – they undertake similar risk assessments and may have other events on the network. The British Transport police will liaise with the rail companies in the same way as the Met will liaise with its working partners.
- Most planning for Palace matches is undertaken at East Croydon Police Station. This takes into account what is happening across London. If deemed a risk day, eg with other major events happening in the capital, the police resources will be considered as part of the overall central resource – usually advised about 8 weeks in advance. On occasion, police officers are asked to be prepared for anticipated incidents so they can be deployed quickly. This may mean arriving for the normal policing of a match in riot gear, which can seem provocative to football fans, but is in readiness for potential action elsewhere.
- Everywhere has a similar police command structure – and most senior officers will grade the match on their own intelligence. Post match a report is sent to a central hub as part of the risk assessment. The reputation of Palace fans has been tarnished by such reports – eg the League Cup match at Manchester United 30/11/2011– Palace fans difficult and disorderly – particularly around goal celebrations. There were 17 CPFC supporters arrested for possession of Class A drugs and public order offences inside the ground, and there were also 15 CPFC supporters ejected. At Watford 08/02/2013 the Deputy Chief Constable wrote to the Commissioner – appalled at the behaviour of Palace fans and that a Palace fan was struck by a seat thrown from a fellow Palace supporter.
- Outside Selhurst Park there is a tolerance for street drinking, which supporters may find less so elsewhere. However, there are sometimes concerns about supporters walking passed recognised home or away pubs and the potential for public order problems. Last season saw a drop in trouble, which is thought to be due to the increase in season tickets – so there were more watching. However, Palace risk supporters involved themselves in a violent confrontation with like minded individuals from Arsenal. Post match the same Palace group attempted to confront the same supporters in the same pub but were prevented from doing so by Palace police spotters.
- Filming is used by the police to help support court cases. Overt filming is usually gathering evidence, particularly of people’s attire. When people come masked up, police have to consider why this is being done – it may just be to cause a reaction. Croydon police mainly deploy cameras at London derbies and when there is a perceived risk. However, Croydon is a pilot for the new video cameras police will be wearing, so the filming will be part of the ordinary policing.
- Feedback from across the country suggests that holding fans back is not good.. At Selhurst holding back presents a safety risk as people feed into narrow concourses. If away supporters are held, this will be in Park Road. When held in the Arthur Waite stand there has been damage to toilets and when taken down Sangley Road damage to people’s property. Arthur Wait/Holmesdale Road dynamics – the way people leave – most wish to go to Norwood Junction – most do not wish to interact. However, the use of the infamous ‘wall’ has not been ruled out, but the likelihood of its use is slim.
- The police were content to have further meetings with CPST in the future, to provide information to be communicated for the benefit of supporters and to answer relevant questions submitted through CPST – so if you have any questions about policing issues, please email through the CPST website.