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Football Clubs Should Pay Extra For Policing

Tue 10th Apr 2012 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

A research project between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and researchers in the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London has suggested that football clubs should pay for the cost of policing a wider area around stadia.

The sport's most senior police officer in England and Wales, ACC Andy Holt told BBC Radio 5 live clubs should pay the full cost of managing games as trouble spreads to other city areas and transport hubs.

Speaking on the results of a study conducted to analyse the spatial and temporal patterns of crime and incidents in and around five football stadia, Holt said it was his personal opinion that forces should be able to claim back the costs of disorder linked to games, instead of being restricted to just the policing costs near stadia.

"It's my personal view that we should have full cost recovery," he told the BBC.

"We are not trying to enforce that at the moment. We are working with clubs and it's a matter for discussion in due course.

"But I would reiterate, my personal view is that professional businesses that are in the entertainment industry should pay for the full costs of their policing."

It is currently official police policy to only charge for policing within grounds and the area immediately around it.

The research consisted of a series of case studies conducted on the areas surrounding five football grounds in early 2011. Several police forces across England agreed with ACPO and the UK Football Policing Unit that they would provide geo-coded crime and incident data for three kilometre areas surrounding a sample of stadia for the period 2005-2010. Those football grounds selected were from contrasting regions in England.

While the geography, road networks and land use around the five stadiums in the study were different the results were remarkably similar. They suggest that relative to days on which matches do not take place, on match days elevated counts of offences and incidents were observed beyond the confines of the grounds and the area immediately surrounding them.

More specifically, the results indicated that for four of the five areas included in the study, there were significantly elevated counts of crimes in locations beyond the predefined ‘footprints’ for whose policing these particular football clubs contribute payment. The typical size of the effect extended to one kilometre away from each ground.

The findings provide evidence that may be used as a basis for determining a fair contribution clubs might be asked to make towards the costs of policing football matches.

"In general, what the findings told us was there are these patterns, these higher than normal counts of crime that are occurring in areas that extend beyond what the football clubs are currently being held responsible for," Justin Kurland, a research associate told the BBC.

"We did as much as we could to rule out that other factors contributed to differences and when you boil it down it does appear that the only difference between these sets of days that we looked at, one type of day has a football match occurring…and on the non-match comparison days there is no match happening."

A statement by the Football League said: "Costs incurred away from the ground that are deemed necessary are covered by the state - it's what people pay their taxes for, with English professional football contributing more that £1bn a year to the Treasury, let alone the tax paid by the millions of fans who attend Premier League and Football League games during the season, and who are of course entitled, like all citizens, to police services as they go about their lawful business.

"We are always happy to discuss how it might be possible to further reduce costs, or indeed how football can help the police tackle youth crime, but we fail to see why football fans should pay twice for policing."

 Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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