THE number of football-related incidents which police in York have to deal with is very low, but a lot of work goes into ensuring that happens. DAN BEAN spent an evening with North Yorkshire Police's Football Liaison Team when Tranmere Rovers visited York City on Tuesday, to find out what goes on behind the scenes.


Thanks to information provided by police spotters, the team is already at work outside a pub in the city centre.

Sergeant Colin Sutherland said: "Information came in earlier in the day about a coach of about 40 what we term to be 'risk' supporters arriving in the city; potentially some who are on banning orders, and one who definitely is on a ten-year ban. 

"We managed to locate them, found the ones with banning orders, and we're going to assess them, interact and chat with them, and see what their intentions are, and prevent any disorder between their risks and the York risks we've identified."

More than 300 Tranmere fans came to York for the match, a high figure for a Tuesday night fixture attended by more than 2,200 in total, and while the 40 or so highlighted by police were termed as 'risks', Sgt Sutherland said this did not necessarily mean they would cause trouble - rather, if trouble were to occur, they were more likely to become involved. Visiting officers from Merseyside Police helped point out the away risks to the local force, while Sgt Sutherland and his spotters made them aware of the local risks.

York Press:


The visiting fan on the 10-year ban is spoken to by officers. If he is found near the ground, officers will advise him to move on, but if he is found inside the ground, he will be arrested.

Sgt Sutherland said: "He's pretty fed up, now he's seen us, which is great.

"He knows we're here and can stop anything happening before it does. He knows his local officers are here, and I would be amazed if he did try to get in."

York Press:


Members of the Tranmere 'risk' group leave the pub in small groups of two and three, which Sgt Sutherland said was a common tactic to try to spread police resources.

He said: "It doesn't matter which league or team you're with, the tactics are exactly the same. But we're not sitting in a car waiting for someone to shout 'help'."

PCSOs, Special Constables and PCs are also looking out for potential problems.

York Press:


Reports of a disturbance in Exhibition Square, as young home and away supporters on their way to the ground shout at each other, which continues into Bootham, before the sight of a single officer causes them to disperse.

Sgt Sutherland said: "A lot of it's bravado, they're all pleased we're there. They're shouting 'if it wasn't for these cops, I'd be over there'. Well, maybe, but it's more likely they're grateful we're around."

7.30pm to 7.45pm

A group of about 10 young York risks are seen on CCTV near Union Terrace car park, just after 20 or so young Tranmere risks were seen nearby.

While we are there, small groups of youths are seen walking towards the car park, then turning away quickly at the sight of officers.

Sgt Sutherland said: "Either that's a massive coincidence, or they have been in communication.

"The public never see this, just hear the number of arrests or the incidents. They don't know the sort of thing that's happening all night around the city, that never comes to anything. It's amazing what the sight of just one police uniform officer can have and how much it deters."

York Press:


So far this season, all York City home matches have not been policed, rather stewards take care of the crowds inside the ground. But Sgt Sutherland and his officers still enter Bootham Crescent and walk among the supporters, and chat with fans.

Inside the ground, the team liaises with Chris Tock, the club's safety officer, whose team monitors cameras inside and outside.

While there, they are made aware of any issues, mainly requests to check whether certain supporters can be allowed into the ground, and reports of three young supporters changing clothes to try to fool officials. They had given up and left before the incident could even be reported.

Sgt Sutherland said: "What happens in the match can obviously affect what happens after.

"We've done our best, but it can be difficult to gauge how many risks have or haven't come in and for all we know there could be more people outside after the game."


Sgt Sutherland explains that new work is being done to try to prevent the long term 'risks'.

He said: "We want to divert them away from having criminal records which could affect their future and employment. We don't want to criminalise people unless we really have to.

"We collate their behaviour, and take CCTV footage on home visits to show their parents what their sons are doing at the football, and make them aware of what could happen if they are found doing it at away matches. It's quite impactful, often the parents have no idea. We know it's a passionate game, and there's nothing wrong with that, but if we think they are going to cross that line, we need to say 'you need to stop or you'll be criminalised'."

This technique was used last season, and is also used with adult risks in some cases.

Sgt Sutherland said: "It's always an amazing difference between match day and when you see them at home when they've just got back from work or school, they're completely different people."

York Press:


A Merseyside officer films a Tranmere supporter who stewards say is acting offensively, and police monitor the situation as the stewards deal with it peacefully.


Word reaches police that the coach which brought the 40 Tranmere 'risks' has left without them, potentially leaving them stranded in the city with no direct trains after the match.

Sgt Sutherland said: "The driver said he didn't know they were here for the football, and wasn't happy with some of the behaviour or drinking, so he's gone. It's his right to do so, but leaves us in a bit of a quandary."

After discussing options, the visiting Merseyside officers advise the Tranmere fans, and arrange to meet them outside the ground after the match.


Officers ask the official supporters' coaches if they will accommodate the stranded supporters, but they decline.

The 20 or so fans who were in the ground are met by the remainder who have walked from the city centre for their lift, and all are upset by the news.

Sgt Sutherland and his team, along with the visiting officers, speak with the supporters, then radio British Transport Police and advise them they will be accompanied to the 10.30pm Manchester service and will have to make their way home from there.

York Press:

The 40 supporters are led over Scarborough Bridge to the station, asked occasionally to keep their voices down in residential areas, and board the train just after 10.20pm.

Sgt Sutherland said: "We can formulate plans to an extent, but couldn't possible have prepared for this. I would like to think that the way we dealt with it was a good example of how we work.

"Football fans are our community on the day, no matter where we are."