Blackpool matchday policing operation is coming under review

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The policing of Blackpool’s home fixtures is being looked at as a “matter of urgency”.

 

Concerns have been raised by supporters throughout the season regarding how they have been treated as they have left Bloomfield Road.

The problem reared its head again during Blackpool’s recent game against QPR, with reports of overcrowding after the full-time whistle.

Groups of fans, which included families and young children, also reported being ‘kettled’ while being barked at by police dogs situated in the back of cars.

Blackpool fans have raised concerns about procedures in place for leaving matches at Bloomfield Road so far this season

Blackpool fans have raised concerns about procedures in place for leaving matches at Bloomfield Road so far this season

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It comes after the policing of the recent derby match between Blackpool and Preston North End was branded as “shambolic”.

Lancashire Police, in a statement issued to The Gazette, has admitted the policing of Blackpool games this season has been challenging.

Superintendent Richard Robertshaw, of Blackpool Police, said: “For a number of reasons the policing of Blackpool FC football fixtures at Bloomfield Road has been challenging this season.

“Despite our best efforts there have been a number of issues, usually at the conclusion of matches. This has included overcrowding, home and away fans mixing as they leave the ground and a small number of supporters intent on causing disorder.

“We recognise the matchday operation, particularly around the route away fans take when leaving the stadium, could be improved and we are working with the club on this as a matter of urgency.

“We are also reviewing our matchday operation to make any changes which will improve the experience for all fans.

“I know the vast majority of fans want to go to the match and enjoy the game in a safe environment.

“However, what we will not tolerate are incidents of violence and recent disorder following matches is under investigation. Any individuals found responsible will be arrested and dealt with accordingly.”

After the QPR game, Pool fans took to social media to share their complaints, with many saying they felt threatened and cramped as they left the stadium.

The issue has also been raised with the club’s Supporters’ Liaison Officer, Steve Rowland, who has relayed the complaints to the club’s chief executive, Ben Mansford.

Posting on social media last week, Rowland said: “Ben confirmed the club shares these concerns.

“Ben informed me that there is a debrief with the police regarding the Preston game on Tuesday and a scheduled Safety Advisory Group Meeting on Wednesday.

“Ben informed me the club intends to raise this issue and will keep me updated with further information in due course.”

Blackpool fans have suggested the exit gate behind the North Stand should be reopened, while others have questioned why visiting supporters can’t be kept behind inside the stadium for 10 to 15 minutes after full-time to allow the home fans to disperse.