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Force Focus: Luton Town FC

Following the fantastic promotion of Luton Town FC to the Championship, our Force Focus takes a look at what goes into policing a football match…

Dedicated football officer

I’ve worked in football policing for 13 years now and this is my ninth season as the dedicated football officer for Luton Town.

My main role is to plan and prepare the policing response for each Luton Town home game. This includes liaising with the club, in particular the senior operations manager and the club safety officer, planning the briefing for the officers who will be policing the match, and sorting out the logistics such as vehicles.

I also set the category of the policing response for the matches, in consultation with the club. The club will advise on what we need to be aware to assist us with setting the category – for example is there rival history, how important is the match to the two clubs, and we’ll look at what issues, if any, there have been at previous fixtures between the teams.  Depending on the category of risk, our response will range from spotters only, where we have a small team engaging with fans and gathering intelligence, to the highest risk category where we have a full command structure in place.

I speak to the club on a regular basis and I’m in close contact with the safety officer around their expectations for the match and what their views are on what category the game should be. I’m also the single point of contact within Bedfordshire Police for any issues the club may experience.

I’m absolutely buzzing that the club has been promoted. It’s great to see the club back where they belong after all their efforts climbing up the leagues. The fans have been through a lot – they’ve seen relegations, deductions, and some tough days. What I think is fantastic is that there has never been a change in the incredible loyalty the fans have shown over the years, no matter what the league they’ve been in or who the opposition is.

I’m really happy for the club and supporters and I’m looking forward to the new challenges it will bring our force in August.

It’s also worth noting the amazing work Gary Sweet and his team have done around Power Court and Newlands Park – it’s a fantastic step forward for both the club and for the regeneration of the town itself and they deserve a lot of credit.

PC Stephen Mason

 Follow PC Mason and his team on Twitter.

 

Gold Commander for high risk category games

I am one of the force’s Gold Commanders for those games which fall into the higher risk categories and require a full command structure. As Gold Commander it is my responsibility to set the strategic direction of the operation; I review the threat and risk assessment and then set the overarching strategy in line with this. The strategy will ultimately look at how we can keep everyone involved safe and minimise disruption within the town.

Once I have set the overall direction for the operation I work with the Silver Commander to ensure they have the resources they require to effectively police the operation depending on the threat and risk assessment. The Silver Commanders will look at which types of resources are required, this could include dogs, horses, or additional support units.

We then have bronze commanders who look after the operational deployments on the ground.

I have the organisational responsibility throughout the operation, from when it starts which is some time before the match, to when it has completely finished and everyone is home safe – hopefully with a smile on their face after seeing their team win.

Having managed many games this season in the role of Gold Commander, I’m delighted that Luton Town have been promoted. It’s great for the club, the fans, and for the town as a whole. I hope everyone has fun at the final match this weekend and enjoys the celebrations safely.

Superintendent Nick Lyall

Follw Supt. Lyall on Twitter.

 

Football spotter

At each Luton Town home game we have what are known as spotters.

My role as a spotter is to keep the home and away supporters apart where possible, and to identify any high risk fans who might cause trouble and ruin the game for other football fans who have come along to enjoy the match. 

I think there is a misconception about football fans – generally there are only a few trouble makers and we tend to know who they are anyway. The majority of fans come along to support their club and have a great day out and we are here to make sure they can do that.

Special Constable Tracey Bateman

Read SC Bateman’s full blog post about the role of a spotter.

 

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