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Policing of Sheffield derby condemned by fans in FSF consultation

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday fans have condemned the policing of the Steel City derby in a consultation with supporters led by the Football Supporters’ Federation.

More than 1,000 supporters took part in our survey examining South Yorkshire Police’s operation before and after the Sheffield derby held last Monday 4th March.

The results paint a damning picture of the operation, particularly post-match as Sheffield United fans left the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough – 72.6% of fans surveyed said the post-match policing of the derby was worse than it was previously.

Additionally, 70.7% describe the management of the exit from the stadium as very poor, a further 14.8% described it as poor. Just 4.3% described it as good or very good.

Asked to give a score out of 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, the post-match operation was rated on average as 1.9 out of 10 by supporters. The pre-match score fared slightly better, though was still rated poorly by fans, averaging 4.2 out of 10 from all respondents.

Director of casework at the Football Supporters’ Federation Amanda Jacks said: “There is no doubt that the results of this survey should give all stakeholders ample food for thought.

“Unfortunately, South Yorkshire Police’s approach did not meet supporters’ expectations of how a modern high-profile fixture should be handled. Supporters have expressed serious concerns about the force’s communication, conduct and approachability.”

Amongst those who took part in our survey, only 11 described police instructions post-match as “clear, audible and helpful”. Almost 80% of those who attended the match believe South Yorkshire Police are worse than average when compared to other forces around the country policing football.

When asked how policing the derby could be improved, fans of both Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United said the force should have more proactive interactions with fans (66.7%). Respondents also felt fans should be more involved in pre-match planning (65.1%) and pre-match communications should be improved (53.3%).

Jacks said: “Notwithstanding their views of policing, it’s clear that supporters want a relationship with South Yorkshire Police.

“There are countless benefits, demonstrated by many derbies across the country, to including supporters in planning around major fixtures – this is the one positive to come out of all of this and South Yorkshire Police should listen to their community.”

Thanks to PA Images for the image used in this article.

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