S Yorks football policing fears after derby day attacks

Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation branch.
Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation branch.

Yobs hurled missiles at police officers on duty for the first South Yorkshire football derby of the season - sparking fears over the safety of officers on match days.

Officers were pelted with objects near the Interchange in Rotherham town centre when Rotherham United played host to Sheffield Wednesday in the first round of the Capital One Cup at the New York Stadium on Tuesday. A police probe into the incident is now under way.

Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, condemned those responsible for the attacks.

“I have heard there seems to be a growing trend of football violence again, which is certainly disappointing, and police officers being the target of that violence is totally unacceptable when all the officers are doing is their job to keep the community safe,” he said.

“Officers have been coming to us over the last couple of years to raise their concerns at staffing levels at football matches - reporting that the numbers policing the games have been reduced because football clubs are only prepared to pay for the officers inside their stadiums, not the ones outside.

“The problem is most football-related trouble takes place outside stadiums.”

He said he wanted South Yorkshire Police and other forces around the country to mount a legal fight to be allowed to recoup the full costs of policing football games.

“Because of the reducing numbers of officers policing football matches officers are concerned for their safety and that of members of the public,” he added.

“I have raised this issue with the force because I am involved in the strategic planning of public order situations, which include football matches.

“I would like the police service nationally to mount a legal case for legislation to allow forces to recoup the full costs incurred when policing matches.”

Superintendent Simon Verrall said: “We continuously review the safety of supporters, officers, stewards and members of the public when planning for and policing football matches.

“We are bound by guidance and legislation for charging for policing services but our utmost priority is to ensure public safety over the cost of an operation.”