Police statement on Preston North End fan claims of ‘appalling’ policing at Blackpool match

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Preston North End lost to Blackpool 2-0 in the first West Lancashire derby in eight years

 

Mounted police following the Blackpool vs Preston North End game
Mounted police following the Blackpool vs Preston North End game (Image: BPL Bible / LancsLive)

One of Lancashire’s top police officers has responded to claims of ‘appalling’ policing following Saturday’s West Lancashire derby between Blackpool and Preston North End.

North End lost 2-0 at Bloomfield in what was the first meeting of the two clubs in eight years.

And while the display on the pitch was poor in the eyes of Lilywhites’ supporters, the same insinuation was labelled towards actions of Lancashire Constabulary officers policing fans outside of the stadium.

Some fans also lamented entering the ground late due to the coaches drop-off point.

Others then hit out at policing outside Bloomfield after the match.

Dozens of supporters took to social media saying North End fans were ‘penned in streets’ before being ‘released straight into areas with Blackpool fans with no police in sight’.

One fan said: “It was a shambles. They did more to put us in danger than to protect us. They didn’t notice the flares, and sent us right into the opposition fans. They were more of a detriment than a help.”

This afternoon (October 24), Assistant Chief Constable Pete Lawson said “having robust resources in place ensured this was prevented before, during and after the game”.

Policing in Blackpool after Saturday's match
Policing in Blackpool after Saturday’s match

ACC Lawson added that “our actions were carefully planned and decisions such as these were taken to ensure that those people who were intent on causing trouble were unable to come into contact with other similar groups or individuals”.

Officers are now assessing any incidents from yesterday’s game before taking action.

The full statement from ACC Lawson reads: “Planning for the game had been taking place for several weeks and as always the priority throughout was the safety of those attending.

“We appreciate that the majority of people simply want to enjoy their day and have no interest in causing trouble. However there was a minority of supporters who were actively looking for opportunities to start violent confrontations with opposing fans, but thankfully having robust resources in place ensured this was prevented before, during and after the game.

“We appreciate that many people may have felt inconvenienced by aspects of the operation – being directed to take a slightly longer route back to their car park, for example. However we wish to make clear that our actions were carefully planned and decisions such as these were taken to ensure that those people who were intent on causing trouble were unable to come into contact with other similar groups or individuals, which would also have put innocent members of the public at risk.

“We would like to thank supporters for their understanding. Although a minority of people attended without peaceful intentions, the operation finished with no injuries and only a small number of arrests for alcohol-related and public order offences.

“We now plan to look into those isolated incidents of disorder and will deal with those involved over the coming days and weeks.”