Letter: There were too few police around the pitch at City v Rovers derby
AS a Gashead I feel extremely proud of how well Rovers played against City and what a great match it was to the wider audience.
Unfortunately I feel the need to comment on the crowd disturbances.
On the way to the stadium I listened to a radio interview with the police commander, who was confident that the correct planning and police preparation was in place.
This, at the time, sounded quite impressive and it left me with the feeling that the police had the correct planning and appropriate resources in place.
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There is a history of pitch invasions from supporters of the home club whether it be City or Rovers , surely the police commander was aware of this and therefore it should have been part of the planning to have officers strategically placed around the pitch to prevent the pitch invasion.
If there had been a sufficient police presence around the pitch towards the end of the match the invasion and subsequent bottle/seat and coin throwing would not of happened, Anyone intent on getting on the pitch will not care about passing a steward but if a police officer was there then they may not have got past.
There was a significant delay in the mounted police entering the stadium. Was this because the officials at Bristol City did not want horses to enter the field of play or was it because the police were ill prepared?
On leaving the stadium it was clear Rovers' fans were leaving along the same exit point as a lot of City fans with an inadequate police presence.
This was highlighted when the Rovers fans attacked the City fans for a prolonged period. The police on the ground worked very well to control the situation, eventually bringing order.
The police officers on the ground worked well under difficult circumstances taking a proactive approach to flare ups, for this the officers on the ground must be applauded
However the wider police chain of command and resources were not up to the required standard.
Why was there a lack of officers in the home end and around the pitch towards the end of the game?
There were 200 police officers on duty. Was this inadequate? Pitch invaders were not arrested, nor were those guilty of anti-social behaviour.
Why was there such an emphasis on stewards to control the crowd? The only way to do this effectively is to have more police.
I understand the costs involved in policing a fixture like this, however as the home football club pays the cost it should have no relevance on the numbers of police officers involved.
If the costs become too expensive for the club then other ways of managing the fixture must be looked at such as, no away fans or playing the match behind closed doors.
Football hooligans are not going to disappear, people need to recognise that. These people are very well organised and intent on bringing disorder to football matches.
There was a collapse of a gate in the Williams stand adjoining the away end at the final whistle leading to several stewards and City fans being crushed and trampled over,
I hope all people concerned have recovered from any potential injuries, this area of the stadium is a known location for city hooligans during every one of their home games, therefore the question needs to be asked is to why there was a lack of police presence at this place at this time.
There was a FA crowd assessor watching events unfold, I hope all people who entered the field of play are banned from the appropriate club.
Bristol City need to work hard and identify individuals to stop this from happening again until then can they call it a safe environment suitable for families. As I write this Bristol City have not indicated that the individuals will be banned.
I sincerely hope the next fixture between both clubs will pass off without incident.