Football clubs told to pay more for policing

Football clubs should pay the full cost of policing a wider area around stadia on match days, according to the sport’s most senior police officer in England and Wales.

Only the bill for policing inside grounds and the immediate vicinity is currently met by clubs.

South Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt, the lead on policing football for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), has said football clubs should pay for all costs related to a game taking place.

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He said “It’s my personal view that we should have full cost recovery.”

But The Football League has said fans pay taxes to cover police costs, and should not “pay twice for policing”.

Research commissioned by Acpo found that in four out of five clubs studied there were “significantly elevated counts of crime” on match days in an area covering one kilometre from each ground.

The Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science at University College London compared crime statistics for five stadia from 2005-10. The research was published in February last year.

Mr Holt said: “Our experience in policing shows that football matches tend to lead to an increase in crime and disorder in the areas surrounding football grounds.

“This research supports this view and suggests that the area affected by increased criminality extends further than the area in which clubs contribute to the costs of policing.

“There are no plans to change the guidance which covers how police forces recover the costs associated with football policing from clubs.

“However, this study provides a further understanding of the effect that football matches can have on crime within our communities and will help inform the service should any future discussions take place on recovering costs associated with policing football.”

The Football League said that supporters were entitled to police services provided by the state, and said the sport contributes more than £1 billion each year in taxes.

The organisation said in a statement: “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 £1 billion 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.

“This long-established principle applies to all individuals and organisations in the UK, from private individuals to shopping centres, pubs and major events, like the Notting Hill Carnival.

“Our clubs work well with their local police forces to make sure that the call on their resources is as little as possible.”

The statement, which was agreed with the Premier League, said clubs had invested heavily in stadia, CCTV and stewarding over the past 15 years to reduce the number of police required to ensure public safety.

It added: “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.”