Fans are focus of Football League project to reduce match-day policing

The English Football League is to fund research into match-day policing aimed at managing potential flashpoints with a more progressive approach to supporters. The long-term objective of the study is for the police to deploy fewer officers at games.

The project, termed “Enable”, carried out observations at five matches last season and reached three key findings: the risks of violence were generally lower than the police had expected, too many officers were on duty and too few talked to supporters.

It also suggested forces did not respond by reducing officer numbers when information based on “very weak” evidence proved unfounded.

The EFL hopes supporting research and match observations for a further two years will help reduce costs and the number of officers allocated to matches.

Enable, led by academics Prof Clifford Stott and Dr Geoff Pearson, cites an estimated annual cost of £48m to police professional football, of which only £5m is borne by clubs since they are legally responsible only for policing on land they own or control on match days.

The pilot for the project was funded by the N8 Policing Research Partnership (PRP).

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