Independent report on policing of football published

Published 06 March 2019

An independent review of the policing of football in Scotland has been published today (Wednesday, 6 March 2019).

The review was commissioned by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland and carried out by Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, of South Yorkshire Police and the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for football policing.

It covered operational planning for matches, intelligence gathering and resource deployment. It also examined how the policing of football felt to those involved, including supporters, clubs and wider stakeholders.

DCC Roberts, who is the most senior police officer in the UK with responsibility for football, spoke to a range of stakeholders, including supporters’ groups, club safety officers and members of the media.

He made a number of recommendations for policing, which will now be considered by Police Scotland.

DCC Roberts said: “The review highlights the excellent capability of Police Scotland in policing football as well as specific areas where the service can develop further good practice and ensure appropriate consistency.

“The Scottish public should be confident that Police Scotland has a proven track record of effectively delivering all manner of high-profile events, football included, and has the requisite capability to work with relevant stakeholders to discharge its responsibilities in keeping football fans safe.

“As such, its operational policing model for football is certainly fit for purpose. The policing of football in Scotland compares well to operation across other European countries and has some excellent examples of good practice, which others should seek to learn from.

“I will be sharing the learning with the rest of UK Policing in order that we can promulgate the good practice from Scotland as many of the recommendations identify issues common to us all.”

The review has also recommended improvements are made to the consistency in the delivery of football policing across the country and in the role of dedicated officers in local policing divisions who act as a link between Police Scotland and supporters.

The review also said that the police service would benefit from an integrated engagement plan with supporters at its heart.

It recommended that Police Scotland should review the function of the Football Coordination Unit for Scotland (FoCUS) to concentrate on strategic delivery, achieving greater consistency and providing expert support while reducing its need to deploy operationally in an evidence-gathering role.

Although not within the remit of his review, DCC Roberts said he had found inconsistency in the management of safety certificates for football stadiums. He recommended that an urgent multi-agency review should be carried out to establish an appropriate governance, consultation and inspection regime for Scottish venues used for football and other events. A copy of the report has been shared with the Scottish Government and COSLA.

DCC Will Kerr, of Police Scotland, said: “Police Scotland has an enviable reputation around how it polices large events, including sporting events such as the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games, and I’m pleased that this independent review has highlighted this.

“But it is important for a learning organisation such as Police Scotland to reflect on areas where we may be able to improve our procedures or learn from good practice elsewhere.

“Therefore, we will consider the recommendations relating to policing and report to the Scottish Police Authority in due course. We have raised other issues outwith the remit of policing with the appropriate and relevant authorities.”

You can read the report below. 

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