Scotland

Football fans' safety 'still at risk' inside stadiums

police and football fans Image copyright SNS
Image caption The review looked into fan safety at grounds across Scotland

More work needs to be done to guarantee the safety of supporters inside Scottish football grounds, according to the body that oversees policing.

It follows an independent report that found there was significant risk to supporters due to inconsistencies in granting stadium safety certificates.

These are issued by local authorities who now say all clubs are up to date.

But it is understood the Scottish government still has concerns over a lack of action.

Clubs and local councils were heavily criticised in a report commissioned for Police Scotland following a crush outside Celtic Park ahead of a match against Rangers last year.

Findings highlighted a "significant risk" to supporters due to a lack of consistency by local authorities.

One recommendation was for a multi-agency review to establish proper governance.

'Respond to misconduct'

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has now responded to the Police Scotland report by reinforcing the point that "the problems of supporter behaviour have not gone away".

Gill Imery from HMIC said "Whilst it has recently been confirmed by Cosla that all 22 local authorities that have senior professional football clubs have safety certificates for their local stadia in place, I share the view of Scottish government and Cosla that more work in this area is required."

It comes just weeks after a match between Kilmarnock and Rangers where fans invaded the pitch, jumped onto a roof that partially collapsed and fans reported crushing outside ahead of kick-off.

"Such incidents demonstrate that the problems of supporter behaviour from the 2018/2019 season have not gone away despite assurances in the popular media that football clubs and governing bodies would respond more robustly to misconduct," Ms Imery added.

Image copyright SNS Group
Image caption A roof over the disabled fans' section at Kilmarnock's Rugby Park was crushed

Despite the ongoing concerns, Cosla president Alison Evison said she was delighted with the HMIC report.

"Today's report is a clear signal of the good, solid progress councils have made in terms of consolidating safety within our football stadia," she said.

She added: "Today's findings show that, despite being only a small part of the original report, councils have responded positively and quickly to contribute to meeting its recommendations.

"Yes, there is always more work that can, and will be, done. Local government never rests on its laurels, but today's report has a welcome and reassuring story to tell on councils' work in this area."

But Scottish government frustrations at local authority action were made clear in its own response to the report.

A spokesman said: "We recognise this is a challenging and a complex issue which will require some longer-term actions, but we believe local government should take action to understand the scale of the issue and provide public reassurance."

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