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   Inside Out - Yorkshire & Lincolnshire: Monday 24th February, 2003

FOOTBALL HOOLIGANS ABUSE RAIL NETWORK

Crowds walking to a football match
CONCERN | match day crowds are stretching police resources

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.

Police operation

Leeds city Station
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 under control.

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 of policing.

Difficulties

Mounted police
Mounted police 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.

Operations

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.

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
Football violence back in fashion

On the rest of the web
West Yorkshire Police
Humberside Police

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

wolves boys
hooligans are role models for young youths like myself and that is why hooligans are increasing.

Arthur, Sheffield
On the TV programme tonight you twice mentiond the enormous cost of policing - without giving a figure. Why ?

Don't say lack of time... that's just a poor editing excuse.

The website says north-east police have overspent their foorball policing budget by £400,000.00. That's "overspent" !

Can your reposrts be a bit more investigative and factual and give us some real stats and costs (even if it means cutting down a tad on the cheery waffle between items!).

John Gunter from Glastonbury
we should band them from city or towns as soon as posbal.



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