Murrayfield full stadium banner

Policing the 6 Nations - Diary of a Match Commander

Chief Inspector Helen Harrison takes us through her first 6 Nations match as Match Commander at the Scotland v Wales fixture at Murrayfield on Saturday 25th February.

I'm thoroughly looking forward to my first 6 Nations match as Match Commander! I recently completed a week-long course at the Scottish Police College in preparation and then training assessments at a Hearts v Rangers match at Tynecastle and a recent Anti-Trump demonstration in the centre of Edinburgh.

Working alongside myself will be a valued supporting cast of 2 inspectors, 4 sergeants and 24 officers, not ignoring the mounted section and large road policing detail outside.

Pre-match preparations have flourished and comprised of planning meetings with the Scottish Rugby Union, partners and Silver to Bronze meetings along with planning by the operations planning team. It's our job to ensure the day operates as smoothly as possible and both sets of supporters are kept safe.

Helen in the control roomCI Helen Harrison taking charge of her first role as Match Commander at the Scotland v Wales game on Saturday 25th February 2017.

The 6 Nations match policing plans have been enriched through intelligence, previous game learning and in response to new developments, threats and risks.

What are you expecting from the day?

I've policed at a number of football matches of late but I'm expecting a contrasting sporting occasion today. Despite the larger audience - with a sell out crowd of 67,000 and a large Welsh following expected - there's always a positive camaraderie between Scotland rugby fans and whoever they are playing.

Crowd trouble is unanticipated, and we expect a friendly party atmosphere inside and outside the ground.

Priorities today are managing the post-match traffic as a result of the hordes of rugby enthusiasts disembarking the ground at the same time and the current Counter Terrorism threat due to the crowded nature of a major sporting event.  

With my tactical plan approved by the Gold Commander and a pre-match walk around the stadium on the day prior, I am planned and prepared for the upcoming day.

0900 hours

My shift starts in my office at Wester Hailes Police Station with a coffee and a review of the plans for the day.  

View of empty stadiumUnfortunately the weather is certainly not to our advantage this morning with strong gusts of wind and heavy rain showers, but it's hoped the conditions can pick up as the day continues!

Studying my tactical plan, reviewing the ground contingency plans, double checking my briefing presentation and re-reading the schedule for the day, it is time to head to Murrayfield.

1000 hours

I arrive at Murrayfield at 1000 hours, some 4 and a half hours before the big 6 Nations kick-off.  

We begin with a quick walk round the ground, during which I note some of the hospitality tents haven’t been put up due to the adverse weather and the wind is certainly causing a few issues this morning too.  

I have a quick chat with the Grounds Safety Manager about this and he updates me that there have been concerns raised about flooding from the Water of Leith. They're currently monitoring the situation with flood measures being added near to the ground.

1115 hours

Next up is a briefing with 3 of the Bronze Commanders with further discussion on resources, deployment, weather and Counter Terrorism awareness.

1215 hours

BriefingWith the event briefing completed, which includes the delegation of plain clothes officers monitoring the behaviour of the arriving crowds, the Mounted Section and officers on the detail.   

Counter Terrorism awareness was a key strand throughout the briefing and it's something always on our minds. We are implementing some new tactics around the ground to ensure best safety precaution.  

I'm also updated that the Roads Policing briefing has been completed at Fettes and they are being deployed. At this time I head to the control room. 

It has been raised that the media are using a large drone near to the ground again and I organise for them to be spoken to about their use of the drone and ensure there are no safety issues.

1400 hours

Police View from Control RoomAn extremely busy period of time in the control room with the Scotland and Wales teams entering the field for their warm-up, Royal arrival and arrival of other VIPs.

This involves much organisation and areas within the ground having to be cleared for the convoy to arrive. A team effort with the involvement of ground staff, G4S and Police Scotland allowing for everything to smoothly on this occasion!

1420 hours

It's fast approaching kick-off and there's a lot going on within the control room as the teams have just entered the hallowed green pitch.

Half time meetingNot too much for the police to worry about at the moment and it's all fairly standard. The stands are almost full, the noise levels rising with the sound of Scottish and Welsh singing voices and the game is nearing kick-off!  

Other than a few issues with ticket sellers, entry to the game has progressed with ease. It's almost time to stand down the mounted section and plain clothes officers leaving just the event detail.

1525 hours

With Wales narrowly winning 13-9, the whistle blows for half time. While the players and supporters take a breather, we hold a half time briefing with the bronze commanders but no major issues are raised. 

The post-match deployment details are re-visited with a few amendments made to further support the nearby Haymarket traffic detail.

1600 hours

With the game deep into the second half, road closures start to be implemented for the final whistle. With the boys in blue mounting a brilliant second half comeback, Murrayfield is buzzing with activity and there's a great atmosphere in the stadium! 

At this stage, officers in the ground are deployed to their post-match details.

Murrayfield full stadium1618 hours

The match is over and Scotland have come back to win 29-13! As the noise of Scottish celebration escalates through the Edinburgh air, the crowd - soaking in every last drop of this famous win - gradually begin to leave the stadium. 

It must also be said that the Welsh fans have also contributed to a great atmosphere and I'm sure the sea of red followers will forget the score and responsively enjoy the Auld Reekie nightlife following the match.

1800 hours

As the crowds disperse from the area, a busy few hours take place for us following the final whistle, especially for the Roads Policing detail with all the road closures and dispersal of the crowd. 

By 1800 hours the surrounding area is almost back to normality and road closures start to become lifted. 

There haven’t been any major issues during the dispersal and with the safety manager content with the number remaining in the ground it is time to start standing officers down.

1900 hours

Everyone has been stood down and I am back at the station to drop my kit off and head home, I'm back to Murrayfield on Tuesday for the de-brief.