A new safety forum has been set up by the Community Mutual and the club’s safety team to tackle issues such as any problems with stewarding, any incidents of hooligan behaviour etc.
AFC BOURNEMOUTH SAFETY FORUM
A new safety forum has been set up by the Community Mutual and the club’s safety team to tackle issues such as any problems with stewarding, any incidents of hooligan behaviour etc. The forum consists of 6 fans representatives, 2 police representatives, the safety officer and chief steward. Wayne Ford & Dave Stone attended the meeting as the CM representatives.
Martyn Webster, the police liaison officer, was instrumental in setting up the forum as he believes that in a community club the fans should have a say re security at the club and be in a position whereby they have a forum to air their views or any grievances. The forum will also provide the police/safety officer/stewards a forum where they can explain why certain things may or may not have happened etc. The forum provides an ideal setting for 2-way communication.
There has of course been previous ?working groups? set up in the past, which have never continued. Sceptics will ask why this one will work when others have failed. I was on the last working group set up which fell apart after AFCBISA became dormant. I feel that this time the willingness to discuss matters more openly is evident from the police and club staff involved plus the willingness to discuss and constructively criticise as opposed to out and out antagonism from the fans Representatives.
There will of course be some things discussed during the forum meetings that will have to remain confidential and I believe the majority of fans will accept that. That is not to say that the details of matters discussed during those meetings will become a closed shop. The date of any meetings will be publicised at least 2 weeks in advance on both independent fans websites, COWS and hopefully the programme. Links will be set up on the websites to enable supporters to directly contact their designated representative with any concerns they have. An article will then be produced within 2 weeks after the meeting advising fans of the matter
An initial meeting was held at the end of February, which was used more to introduce the members of the forum to each other and set out goals and objectives. A lot of background detail was discussed and the following is a detailed appraisal of matters discussed during that meeting. It was agreed that Martyn Webster and Wayne Ford would alternate chairing the meetings.
Martyn Webster gave some background as to his position as police liaison officer. He detailed how games are graded by using both intelligence gathered by our own intelligence officer (Billy Russell) and those from our opponent’s intelligence officers. Some games are easily identifiable as likely to be confrontational due to historic issues e.g. Brighton, Swindon. Out of 18 home games this season only 5 have been policed. The club paid a nominal fee for those 5 games. Martyn confirmed the police helicopter, if present, was not charged to the club but paid for by Dorset Police. He further confirmed that on the non-policed games there was a standby unit to assist at the ground if need be ? the club do not pay for that stand-by unit. Martyn stated that at times intelligence proves to be wrong ? Aldershot being identified as one of those games. Police had received intelligence that trouble was planned but this turned out to be false hence why the game had been policed.
John Steele stated that he had become the Safety Officer at the start of this season, replacing Bill Buckly. Prior to that he had worked in the control room for the previous 7 years. He stated that up until 7 years ago all games had been policed whether or not a police presence was required. The then Chairman Ken Gardiner had spoken to the Chief Constable re having police free games and the Chief Constable agreed on the condition there was someone present in the control room with the required knowledge in crowd control etc and he was then assigned to work alongside Bill Buckly.
He advised that the stewarding team comprised of 109 fully trained stewards, 14 of whom are trained to the higher level required for ejection units. These stewards have to do further training in search and ejection. We currently have 2 ejection units comprising of 1 supervisor and 6 stewards. The other 95 stewards are basic stewards who still have to pass basic training due to new legislation.
Stewards are briefed depending on the level of intelligence received. The stewards are no longer all briefed together in the East Stand, instead John, Martyn and Pete brief the supervisors and they in turn brief the stewards working under them. The stewards are encouraged to treat customers in a manner with which the steward would expect to be treated himself. The stewards have all recently received new handbooks, which contain a code of conduct on the front page. The extra training has reduced the need to have police at as many games as before however it is important to point out that the stewards are there purely for crowd safety. They should not be expected to deal with any major disturbances, these would be dealt with by police. Most games are very quiet and there are no problems. There are times when things occur and can lead to an over reaction from fans.
Pete Tryska admitted that mistakes had been made e.g. Colchester but feels that the stewards have learned from them and will continue to learn. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. He believes that the vast majority of fans have a good relationship with the stewards. He stated in relation to the Aldershot game, they had asked people to sit down and more importantly to stop standing on the chairs on 3 occasions before the stewards were ordered to go in and remove people. He stated that in hindsight it would have been better to remove people as they came down to leave/go to the toilet etc and lessons had been learnt from that game.
He did state that no one should be ejected from the ground without having received a warning first that they would be ejected if they persisted in whatever they were doing unless they had entered the field of play, been arrested, been violent or it was a racial incident. In those incidences they would be arrested and ejected with no further warning.
There have been 12 ? 15 ejection’s this season, 3 of which have been for entering the field of play ? those 3 have been banned until the end of the season. The majority of the other ejections have been dealt with by way of a formal warning advising them that if their behaviour persists they will receive a banning order. Martyn added that in addition to internal disciplinary procedures the police would seek banning orders from the courts in some incidences. The majority of the ejections have also come in the South Stand and they have been people entering on complimentary community tickets. The Football in the Community Team have been approached about this in an attempt to prevent similar situations in the future. We were lucky in relation to the 2 games where ?fans? entered the field of play in that the referee on each occasion did not report the incident. All present were aware of the implications for the club had either of the referees reported it.
On occasions there may be an observer from the Football League Authority. If they were present at a game whereby there was for example persistent standing and they witnessed stewards asking people to sit down on 3 occasions but then not eject people if the standing continued they could if desired order the ?problem area? be closed for a number of games or force the club to have additional police at the games.
At the Oldham game away fans were spoken to on their way into the ground and reminded that they must not stand during the game and there did appear to be less away fans standing. Pete states that this will be continued with all away fans being reminded to sit on their way in at future games.
Dave Stone bought up the fact that certainly in relation to the North Stand fans did feel that they were treated a lot worse than away fans especially in relation to standing. It is a vicious circle whereby in a lot of ways it is easier to police/identify our own fans than away fans and if home fans remain seated then away fans are more likely to do so as well and if home fans see that away fans are getting away with standing home fans will stand too.
Pete stated that he took that view on board, could understand it and would attempt to be more visible in relation to trying to get away fans seated as well but did state the understandable difficulties when bigger clubs e.g. Sheffield Wednesday came down. John added that he will make a point of asking fans via the tannoy system to remember to remain seated and would if needed specifically state the message was to away fans as well. If nothing else the North stand would hear away fans being told to sit. Martyn, John and Pete all stated that they did not wish to eject any Bournemouth fans from the ground and it would only be done as a last resort.
Howard Lee stated that there were rarely any problems in the main stand other than the odd away fan or a bit of bad language. It was conceded that the away fans may of course have been on complimentary tickets however Pete has asked that any away fans being noticeable in that area to be reported to a steward.
The problems in the North stand are of course well known. Wayne Ford stated that the stewards coming into the North Stand mob handed was like red rag to a bull and often appeared to make the situation worse. He also stated that the general opinion was that the stewards mollycoddled the away fans and picked on their own fans. Adie Brown agreed with Dave and Wayne as to the North Stand problems.
Gayle Hope stated that there were very few problems in the family stand. There were a few games where there were away fans in the family stand in general this did not present a problem, as they were family units. The Luton game was one identified as a big problem due to the large number of young lads in the stand. Gayle also stated that at the Blackpool game a Blackpool fan had been sitting with a Bournemouth fan in front of her, neither had a child with them so should not have been there. Gayle did point out to the Blackpool fan he was right in front of the control room and if kept jumping about would be removed and he had respected that. Pete informed Gayle that there was one person intent on standing during the games, right in front of the control room.
Ron Tomlin reported there were fewer problems in the East Stand now the young lads responsible for previous problems were no longer there, it appears they now frequent the South Stand instead. He stated there was a problem in the top corner near the North Stand where language was a bit choice in an area where there are a high number of children.
In all stands there is the problem of people climbing on seats at the end of the game to get out instead of walking down the stairs. Martyn advised that even with a capacity crowd the stands emptied in just 6 minutes which is remarkably fast.
There was some discussion re our small hooligan element. In addition to the group that has been around for some time we also now have the a group of 30 odd kiddies from the Upton area intent on causing problems. Situations where the away fans coaches had had stones etc thrown at them has led to a situation whereby the away fans coaches are now escorted from the ground. The kiddies now tend to hang about down Holdenhurst Road in an attempt to cause trouble. They are being monitored. The hooligan element although small remains a problem and approximately 60 would be hooligans had attended both the Yeovil and Brentford games intent on causing problems but had thankfully failed in their efforts.
The fans representatives are identified below. It is important that fans know whom to approach with any problems/concerns. Links will be set up on both upthecherries and redandblack so that fans can contact their Reps directly. The club will also be asked to put a link on the official website. Mick Cunningham will be asked if the Fans Representatives can also be included in the programme. Any issues raised by fans to their respective representatives would then be raised in an appropriate manner at the next forum meeting.
It was decided that meetings would be held bi-monthly at this stage. Obviously if any major problems arose between meetings that needed to be addressed urgently additional meetings could be called.
It was agreed that the 1st meeting had been very positive and all hoped that by working together problems can be eradicated.
Any fans wishing to have matters bought up at the next meeting are requested to contact their Fans Representative.
Next meeting: Thursday 27th April 2006.
Wayne Ford aka Shanford
Gayle Hope aka book_me_browning
John Steele ? Safety Officer
Pete Tryska ? Senior Steward
Martyn Webster ? Police liaison officer
Billy Russell ? Police Intelligence officer
For all contact information, use this link.
Report by Gayle Hope