FOOTBALL HOOLIGANS ABUSE
|CONCERN | match day crowds are stretching police
Football hooligans are abusing Britain’s rail
network by using it as the venue for violent match day fights.
Inside Out investigates how this is stretching
police resources to the limit.
Football hooliganism is a menace that refuses to go away.
It’s a vicious drama played out every Saturday in a town centre near you.
But forget public houses or stadium car parks, railway
stations are the new hooligan hotspot.
Prearranged fights and ambushes at railway stations are
now common currency.
Recent incidents at Hull and Leeds stations show that
the problem is close to home.
|Leeds City Station
has been the venue for recent hooliganism|
Inside Out’s cameras spent several months following British
Transport Police as they tried to keep the lid on the growing problem
of violence on the railways.
Area Commander David Bruce from the British Transport
Police says, "When the football fixtures are announced, people will notice
that their local teams are playing away."
"Hooligans who follow both sides will be sat on opposite
platforms at railway stations, and they may hate each other."
The cost of policing
British Transport Police are battling to keep the problem
Their resources are stretched every weekend by the hundreds
of thugs from all over the country who use trains as their preferred method
of exporting violence.
Officers are deployed in their hundreds in an attempt
to prevent violence, intimidation and inconvenience to ordinary members
of the public.
The cost of policing these fixtures is immense. In the
North East area alone, British Transport Police will have overspent their
football budget by around £400,000 by the time the football season ends.
This is money that they could have spent on other areas
are often deployed in the fight against hooliganism|
Policing such incidents are extremely difficult because
hooligan gangs travel by bizarre routes in an attempt to outwit the police.
The gangs use mobile phones and the internet to keep
in touch with each other.
This helps them to change their plans if they fear they
will be exposed to heavy police numbers.
One factor that does helps the police is that football
fans are not difficult to spot. Burberry, Stone Island and other designer
labels are their unlikely uniforms.
Inside Out’s cameras were with British Transport Police
during two of their biggest operations of 2003 so far.
These were on the days of Leeds United’s visit to Scunthorpe
in the FA Cup and the Huddersfield Town versus Cardiff City.
Cardiff have some of the most notorious fans in the country.
They took a bizarre route to Yorkshire, switching between coach and train
transport in an attempt to avoid the police.
Fortunately, on this occasion, the police operation was
successful. Cardiff fans were eventually met by the police and escorted
to the ground.
But this was an expensive operation and in reality, one
that cannot be repeated for every match every weekend.