National Football Engagement Strategy report published
As Scottish football supporters return to stadiums across the country, Police Scotland has renewed its commitment to building relationships with football fans following the publication of its first supporters’ engagement survey.
Supporters were asked for their views on how officers engaged with them, the communities affected by football and the wider public about football policing - following a key recommendation made in the Independent Review of Football Policing in Scotland.
Almost 7,000 took part in the survey and the results have now been published.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said:
“We recognised that engagement and communication with football supporters is key and I am pleased so many people with an interest in football took part in the survey.
“Football plays an important role in Scottish life, for communities and individuals and can make a positive impact.
“We commissioned the survey as a way of getting views directly from supporters and local communities, as much to allow them to fully understand the role of officers at matches as gaining an understanding of what they expect from us.
“As a result, we have completely transformed the way we communicate with supporters and going forward will continue to involve them and our communities in shaping the way we police football matches.”
Supporters groups are now an integral part of Police Scotland’s planning of football matches - the Scottish Disabled Supporters Association, the Scottish Football Supporters Association and Supporters Direct Scotland now attend the Football and Events Working Group. This forum meets regularly to discuss issues relating to policing of football and other events and includes representatives of British Transport Police, the SFA, the SPFL, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Scottish Government and the Football Safety Officers’ Association Scotland.
A large majority of those who responded felt that football had a positive impact on their community. While the results of the survey show that football supporters do not always feel the need to engage with Police Scotland officers at matches, the enhanced engagement has been welcomed by Scottish football supporters groups.
Alan Russell of Supporters Direct said:
“Police Scotland is a key partner to Scottish football in ensuring that the match day experience is safe and enjoyable for all supporters. It is vitally important that communications between everyone involved on are clear and constructive, and we welcome the publications of its Football Engagement Strategy. The Independent Review of Football Policing identified potential improvements in how Police Scotland interact with supporters, and we are pleased to have seen the early implementation of many of these recommendations.
“The survey results are revealing, and identify a number of issues that matter to supporters. Communication is the key to any good relationship, and we will listen to each other and work together to ensure that improvements continue to be made.”
Simon Barrow, co-founder and vice-chair of the Scottish Football Supporters Association, said:
“This survey, and the process of which it is part, represents a significant step forward in communicating better with the whole football community over policing and security issues. We will study the results with interest, and look forward to further engagement, discussion and consultation in the coming months.”
Assistant Chief Constable Williams added:
“It is extremely important that we continue to work with the clubs and match organisers to ensure everyone who goes to a football match anywhere in Scotland can enjoy it in a safe and secure environment.
“We will build on the work already undertaken and continue to develop effective working relationships with football supporters and our communities.”