Police Scotland’s Inspector Stuart Fisher from Ops Planning, speaks about the National Football Engagement Strategy and the impact it will have.
Following the publication of the National Football Engagement Strategy, I thought this would be a good opportunity to give an update on what that will look like in North East Division and how it will affect our approach to policing football matches.
The National Football Engagement Strategy, was created as a result of supporters being asked for their views on how officers engaged with them, the communities affected by football and the wider public about football policing.
Details can be found on the Police Scotland website, or on North East Division social media.
New youth diversion programme
The most exciting aspect is the roll out of the “Pitchin In” Programme.
This is primarily a youth diversion programme, using football as the context for addressing wide ranging societal issues such as Racism, Homophobia, Hate Crime and Disability Awareness.
The programme can be used proactively to assist young people to develop their decision making skills and help them avoid being drawn into criminality.
The programme can be delivered in schools, colleges and in conjunction with club community trusts and can be delivered to children and young people ranging from the age of 12 upwards however on a case by case basis it can be delivered at any age.
We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the North East’s senior clubs and look forward to working with them in delivering the programme. Keep an eye on our social media for further details.
Engagement with supporters groups increased
We have certainly increased our engagement with supporters groups and aim to build on that encouraging constructive relations with supporter and community groups.
There is even potential for people from these groups to attend Police matchday briefings in the future. We hope this could give a better understanding of our role and dispel some of the myths as to our intentions.
We all recognise the huge part football plays in our communities and whilst the return of crowds has been a welcome sight, it has resulted in a return to officers being deployed to matches.
While our resources are more regularly deployed in and around Pittodrie, depending on the fixture, officers can be deployed to Balmoral Park, Balmoor Stadium and Borough Briggs.
Majority of matches happen without need for police to be deployed
The vast majority of football matches in the North East take place without the need for police to be deployed within the stadiums.
When officers are deployed to a football match, our primary focus is to assist the club in delivering a safe event.
Like the referee on the pitch, ideally we would like to go unnoticed (yes, really).
Believe it or not police officers are human beings and many are football fans themselves.
Fans go to games to savour the atmosphere, to enjoy the game and hope their team wins.
Would it surprise you to know that the police set out with very similar objectives? We want to see a full house, with a good atmosphere and a game that passes without incident and where no arrests are made.
Working to deliver safe, secure event
Ahead of every fixture, we work closely with both teams and support the home club to deliver a safe, secure and successful event.
We will have an appropriate policing plan in place to ensure all those attending the match can enjoy it in a safe environment and ensure disruption to the local community is kept to a minimum
A football crowd is a community in its own right and police officers are part and parcel of that community.
The ethos of the Pitchin In Programme shows the impact supporters actions can have on the community and encourages supporters to be good citizens.
Come to the game, get behind your team in the right manner and you’ll not even know we are there.