Leeds United pays more for match-day policing but gets fewer officers than Huddersfield Town, figures show

Mounted police outside Elland Road before a match. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.
Mounted police outside Elland Road before a match. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

WEST Yorkshire Police charged Leeds United more for policing football matches than Huddersfield Town, despite more officers being sent to Terriers matches, figures show.

A national organisation representing football fans has called for a full-scale review of the way matches are policed.

Source: FOI/BBC Shared Data Unit

Source: FOI/BBC Shared Data Unit

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Whites pay nearly three-quarters of their match-day policing costs while the Terriers pay less than half, because of the national rules surrounding how clubs are billed.

Leeds United's average bill for match-day policing was revealed as about £25,000.

Now new figures show Leeds gets fewer officers despite paying more.

On average, in the first half of the 2017/18 season, there were 103 officers at Leeds United home games, compared to 110 at Huddersfield Town.

This equated to about 300 fans per officer at Town’s Premier League matches and about 500 fans per officer at Leeds United’s Championship matches, a Freedom of Information request by the BBC Shared Data Unit found.

Fans have said they expect clubs to be treated fairly.

Chris Hall, secretary of the Leeds United Supporters Club, said: “We would hope all clubs would be treated the same. I’m sure all fans would expect police forces to charge clubs the same.”

Amanda Jacks, caseworker for the Football Supporters’ Federation, said: “Perhaps there should be a country-wide review of how matches are policed, particularly in very obvious times of austerity when police budgets are stretched.”

She said there was an argument that many matches were currently over-policed, which added to clubs’ costs.

She said: “That isn’t to argue every single game should be police-free but I think for the vast majority of games, you shouldn’t see police inside a football stadium.

"In theory, given that a football match is a private event there is no reason why clubs should not be able to provide enough suitably trained stewards to ensure the safety of match goers without reliance on the police for 'back up'."

Under the law, clubs have to pay for match-day policing that takes place on their land, while the rest is funded by the public purse.

West Yorkshire Police said it followed the national protocol for billing football clubs and that different matches would have different policing requirements.

A spokesman added: "We review policing costs at the start of each season and then each fixture is assessed on an individual basis."

Earlier this year, Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster, of West Yorkshire Police, said clubs were different sizes which means “the cost of policing for clubs can vary” and discrepancies were also due to the different policing requirements of matches.

Mr Foster said: “A category C match which is classed as high risk, for example, will require a higher police presence than a Category A which has a lower risk threshold.

“In terms of what it charges clubs, West Yorkshire Police follows an established national protocol of charging for the deployment of officers within an agreed ‘footprint’ of land owned, leased or controlled by the club. Each club has a different sized footprint, affecting the number of officers required to police it, which means the cost of policing for clubs can vary.”