FURTHER to comments by your reader Mr Stocks following the recent Huddersfield Town v Leeds Utd match (“The police have driven me away from super Town!” Mailbag April 19). I have noted his concerns and felt it appropriate and necessary to give a response to all fans who attended the game.
The policing and safety operation surrounding the fixture was carefully planned to minimise the risks involved to ALL supporters at the game. Part of the safety arrangements involved preventing access to the car park at the south end of the stadium for a short period at the end of the game for those supporters leaving the Lawrence Batley Stand.
This was based on an intelligence assessment and was not a “hold back”.
These arrangements were set out clearly in the match programme, with supporters being invited to stay in their seats after the game. There were also public address announcements on the night informing supporters that there would be a delay in leaving the ground.
Supporters leaving the Lawrence Batley Stand were able to do so freely, albeit in one direction and indeed many supporters did so and left the stadium site from the opposite end.
The supporters affected were largely those with cars parked in the stadium car park. The cordon of police officers that filtered access from the Lawrence Batley Stand to the south side of the stadium allowed both sets of supporters to disperse and those people wishing to go to the car park to do so in safety after a short delay.
Having reviewed all of the options we considered that the option employed on the night was the safest for all concerned. Our duty of care to the public is paramount at such events.
I’m sorry that Mr Stocks, his family and other supporters – including members of my own family – got cold and wet. But I would like to reassure them that I do think long and hard before employing policing tactics.
On the night this was deemed to be the most effective means of maintaining safety for all concerned and to prevent the likelihood of disorder and was done so in full agreement with the grounds safety officer.
I hope the report by Andrew Hirst of the Examiner showed how carefully, professionally and sensitively we police football fixtures.
Barry S J South
Divisional Commander, Kirklees