South Yorkshire Police to 'change approach' after ugly scenes marr Sheffield derby at Hillsborough
South Yorkshire Police will ‘change its approach’ to policing football following heavy criticism of their handling of the Sheffield derby.
Ugly scenes marred the goaless draw between Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United in Hillsborough in March with rival fans clashing outside the stadium.
Fans complained that they were treated heavy-handedly by officers after the game and that there were crushes outside the stadium.
Police were criticised for their security planning with away fans being kept inside the stadium for just ten minutes after the game had finished.
In an internal email, seen by the Guardian, the force said it will be changed to a ‘more community style of policing and engagement with fans’.
This is due to be launched at a meeting of the force’s football policing officers on July 5.
The email, sent by Superintendent Paul McCurry states: “The purpose of this event will be to formally launch a new approach to policing football and other crowded events across South Yorkshire.
“This follows a thematic inspection into football policing and brings together best practice initiatives from other parts of the UK. Our new approach will see us adopt a more community style of policing, and engagement with fans at the heart of what we will deliver.”
Fans of both clubs were left outraged with the policing operation following the match.
The Football Supporters’ Federations received 1,012 responses to a survey with rated the force’s operation as on average 1.9 out of 10.
More than 70.7 per cent described police management of the exit from the stadium at the Leppings Lane end, which was allocated to Sheffield United supporters, as very poor.
Almost 80 per cent described South Yorkshire police as “worse than average” compared with other forces around the country.
Fans were told before the game that away fans would be held inside the stadium for at least ten minutes after the full time whistle.
However, many fans have reported on Twitter that the Sheffield United fans were released at the same time as the home fans, leading to clashes around Leppings Lane.
Fans reported fireworks and coins being thrown as supporters left the stadium with one fan taken to First Aid after being hit by a firework.
One fan tweeted: “All kicked off outside away end, they let both sets of fans come out together with no segregation.”
Another tweeted: “What an absolute shambles from @syptweet. It was like a warzone outside Leppings Lane. Had to squeeze through the coaches to stop from getting pelted with coins, smacked by a moron, or trampled by horses. Easier to police on a Monday night? Yeah right! #swfc #twitterblades”
An earlier video showed a fight breaking out outside Hillsborough with police officers quickly breaking it up.
South Yorkshire Police said there was ‘disorder’ when the two teams came into contact at the tram stop at Leppings Lane.
However, the force said this was ‘effectively dealt with by officers’ and that no issues were raised by tram operators.
Others reported crushes between sets of fans on Leppings Lane with sets of Sheffield United and Sheffiield Wednesday fans on the same trams.
After the game, police match commander CH Supt Shaun Morley said that six people had been arrested for ‘minor disorder’.
He then thanked officers ‘for their efforts, professionalism and effectiveness in keeping the puiblic safe’.