Response to Operation Peer Review
Huddersfield Town has today given an initial response to West Yorkshire Police’s review relating to Town’s game against Hull City on Saturday 30 March 2013.
After initially rejecting the Club’s request for a kick-off rescheduling, a number of measures were put in place that meant West Yorkshire Police allowed the game to go ahead.
During negotiations Hull City’s ticket allocation for the game at the John Smith’s Stadium was eventually settled at only 1,500 after the game was moved to a 5.20pm kick-off for live Sky TV coverage. The travel arrangements of Hull fans was also severely restricted to a ‘bubble’ system, where away fans were forced to travel only on official coaches before being corralled and held at Hartshead Services prior to arriving at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The moves prompted widespread complaints and concerns and a demonstration by fans before the game, as well as the subsequent Police Operational Peer Review and Freedom of Information requests from the HTSA and Hull supporters’ groups.
The Operation Peer Review of the planning, decision making and public safety arrangements for the game has been carried out by Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman of Northumbria Police.
It has been published in full this morning on the West Yorkshire Police website (click HERE
). In a response to the findings, Chief Constable Mark Gilmore has issued an apology, saying:
“The review has made a number of recommendations in respect of learning for the future which has been accepted by West Yorkshire Police and are being fully implemented.
“As Chief Constable I wish to apologise on behalf of West Yorkshire Police to all supporters and those who rightfully raised concerns on their behalf, for any upset or inconvenience caused.”
For the full open letter to supporters, click HERE
The report has set out nine recommendations pertaining to how West Yorkshire Police manage football games moving forward:
Recommendation 1: West Yorkshire Police review their policy on policing football and major events. In particular strong consideration should be given to the early referral to the SAG (Safety Advisory Group) of all issues of dispute between West Yorkshire Police and football clubs/event organisers.
Recommendation 2: West Yorkshire Police consider the introduction of a cadre system of commanders that precludes senior officers and ‘lead’ commanders from operating at clubs within their BCU.
Recommendation 3: All meetings with event organisers or Football Club officials must be properly recorded and minuted.
Recommendation 4: The creation of a joint communication/ media strategy must be considered at the earliest possible stage whenever negotiations are being entered into.
Recommendation 5: West Yorkshire Police urgently address the public concern this event has generated through a transparent explanation of events and a clear outline of changes that will be implemented.
Recommendation 6: The force considers the effectiveness of its intelligence gathering processes around public order events such as protest.
Recommendation 7: The force reviews the existing arrangements for the recording of critical decisions such as legal advice in support of operational commanders.
Recommendation 8: The Chief Officer Team should revisit the procedure for the identification, sharing (in particular at leave periods) the management of risk internally.
Recommendation 9: Such operational risks that are identified should be presented to the Community Outcomes forum.
Huddersfield Town Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens commented:
“The safety of our fans and visitors is a top priority for the Club and throughout the ‘New Era’ under the Chairmanship of Dean Hoyle, Huddersfield Town has had a good, professional working relationship with West Yorkshire Police.
“The Club is pleased that West Yorkshire Police has reviewed what took place surrounding this fixture and has made its report and findings public. Clubs, fans and the public need to have confidence and trust the Police is making the right judgement calls after correctly following effective and robust processes to review the issues.
“We are considering the detailed recommendations carefully and will respond to them in due course. We welcome the statement of the Chief Constable and his commitment to learning the lessons.”