The return of spectators to football – will the hooligan minority return?

It will be interesting to see what trends develop as genuine fans and spectators return to football grounds and as the relaxing of COVID measures allows for gatherings to take place legally in city-centres and hospitality venues. Will the ‘older firms’ have grown older and wiser over the last eighteen months or will they be on a mission to reassert their hierarchy’s and standing. Where will the ‘up and comers’ emerge from, and in which leagues, and how will they react to policing tactics. How will large numbers of officers who have spent much of their probationary periods policing COVID respond to the challenges of dealing with crowd safety and public order. Is there an intelligence void which will need to be filled quickly to get ahead of the game – have Forces invested sufficiently in this area. Is there an appetite at Government level to put the rise in public order challenges in the UK higher up the criminal justice agenda. Are there enough public order trained officers with experience of policing football matches. What are the strategic aims of police leaders – is it to stand off and communicate, is it to engage and enforce, is it to leave it to football clubs to ‘police’ or is it too far down the priority list to feature. Over the last eighteen months we have witnessed an increase in the willingness of individuals to take on the police with impunity – some of these have been at so-called ‘fan celebrations’. It might be argued that on occasions the hooligans have even ‘won’ with police officers suffering serious injuries due to lack of numbers or lack of appropriate protective clothing. Post investigations as valuable as they are cannot be the routine answer to every outbreak of violence. Are the police ‘match fit’ – I suspect we will know sooner rather than later. #staysafe #football #violence #hooligans #wmp #police #history #btp #railways

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