Police claim fan engagement ‘transformed’

Following the results of a recent survey, Police Scotland has claimed it has ‘completely transformed’ the way it connects with football supporters.

The survey received nearly 7,000 respondents, all with an interest in football or communities affected by the game. Around 95% of whom were fans who attend games regularly.

The results – which have been published in a report HERE – showed just 41% of respondents wanted Police Scotland to engage with them about football and, of these, most would prefer that engagement to come through their club.

The report also said that, of those who have experience with Police Scotland around football, it happened mostly on matchdays. The report said: “These types of situation often don’t allow the chance to chat through an issue in the way that a pre-planned meeting with supporters would allow, and after asking respondents to rate their experience with us, it is clear there is improvement needed in how we are seen to be exercising our powers and explaining our actions on match day.”

Only 17% of matches in Scotland during the 2018-19 season (most recent figures) had a police presence – but fans raised a range of issues in the survey, including the use of cordons and similar measures outside grounds and the confiscation of alcohol from supporters’ buses.

Assistant Chief Constable, Mark Williams, said: “We recognised that engagement and communication with football supporters is key and I am pleased so many people with an interest in football took part in the survey.

“Football plays an important role in Scottish life, for communities and individuals and can make a positive impact.

“We commissioned the survey as a way of getting views directly from supporters and local communities, as much to allow them to fully understand the role of officers at matches as gaining an understanding of what they expect from us.

“As a result, we have completely transformed the way we communicate with supporters and going forward will continue to involve them and our communities in shaping the way we police football matches.”

He added: “It is extremely important that we continue to work with the clubs and match organisers to ensure everyone who goes to a football match anywhere in Scotland can enjoy it in a safe and secure environment.

“We will build on the work already undertaken and continue to develop effective working relationships with football supporters and our communities.”

Simon Barrow, co-founder of the Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA), said: “This survey, and the process of which it is part, represents a significant step forward in communicating better with the whole football community over policing and security issues.

“We will study the results with interest, and look forward to further engagement, discussion and consultation in the coming months.”

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