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Sheffield derby policing: what fans said

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

Last week we surveyed more than 1,000 Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United fans to get their thoughts on policing operation before and after the Steel City derby.

Some of the headline figures have already been reported, you can see those here, and now we can release the results of that consultation in more detail. Take a look below…

FSF Sheffield derby consultation

  • 1012 respondents from Thursday 7th March to Sunday 10th March 2019.


  • 40.7% said policing was worse than previous derbies (51.1% about the same)
  • Asked to give a score out of 10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, the pre-match operation was rated on average as 4.2 from all respondents.


  • 72.6% said it was worse than previously (24.3% about the same)
  • 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
  • 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
  • Only 11 of 929 fans (1.2%) described police instructions post-match as clear, audible and helpful.

South Yorkshire Police

  • 79.5% describe SYP as ‘worse than the average’ when compared with forces around the country (13% say they’re roughly the same)
  • Only 38.5% would describe SYP’s general policing at other home matches as adequate, and 15.2% saying it was good or very good.

Supporter engagement
When asked what they should do to improve their matchday policing, the most popular responses were:

  • Have more proactive interactions with fans: 66.7%
  • Include supporters in pre-match planning/discussions: 65.1%
  • Improve pre-match communications/messages: 53.3%
  • Improve their engagement with fans through social media: 37.3%

What fans said

We asked supporters for their general feedback on the policing operation, here is just a small selection of the many comments left:

Treating the 99% of good natured football fans as hooligans creates an atmosphere of hostility which is not seen in any other sport or public event

Police are intimidating and unapproachable, they yell instructions and were hitting individual who did not follow them immediately even if unable to (I.e if the path was blocked)

Lost control. Had no idea what they were doing. Swinging batons at anyone they pleased

Atrocious, didn’t care and thought hitting people with batons when they tried to move in the crush of people was a good idea. Legalised assault on many occasions and absolutely unneccesary

Leppings lane policing was irresponsible, bottlenecking fans on the road at the same time caused multiple fights and distress to regular fans

I don’t understand why both sets of fans were allowed out of the ground at the same time. The road layout doesn’t change, so I don’t understand why they can’t plan an exit strategy well before a match. They just allow things to happen and try to react.

The FSF has approached South Yorkshire Police for a response to our survey’s findings, at the time of publication they have yet to respond.

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

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball
  • SD Europe