Football fans gearing up for the new Premier League and Football League seasons are being reminded to ‘Know The Game Plan’ and report any security concerns to stewards or staff. National Counter-Terrorism Security Office professionals have been working with the Premier League, the English Football League (EFL) and individual clubs to enhance measures designed to keep supporters safe and to raise and awareness of the threat from terrorism among club employees and supporters alike.
While there’s no specific threat to football grounds, the project is part of a wider police plan to work more closely with different sectors such as retail, hospitality and entertainment to help protect the public.
Other sports such as rugby, tennis and cricket have also been supporting the ‘Know The Game Plan’ initiative, while former England internationals Alan Shearer, David Seaman and Paul Parker took part in a police campaign during the recent World Cup.
Nearly a quarter of a million sports event stewards have been issued with a short guide giving key advice to help protect crowds of spectators.
Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, the national co-ordinator for protective security, said: “The chance of being caught up in a terrorist attack is low, but we want the public to feel confident to come forward and report to matchday staff or police any concerns if they see something suspicious. The more clubs encourage supporters to do this, the more likely they are to act on their instincts and not worry they might be mistaken or wasting time. Most concerns will turn out to be nothing and that’s absolutely fine. It’s far better to say something than risk an important piece of information being missed. Our mantra is that ‘Action Counters Terrorism’. If you see something, don’t hesitate to ACT.”
Sharing of knowledge
Bob Eastwood, security and operations advisor for the EFL, added: “Urging supporters to think about security is just part of the work football has been doing in partnership with the police. Over the last 12 months, we have held many events all over the country such that counter-terrorism officers and stadium security managers can share their knowledge and do all they can to stay a step ahead. The safety of all fans is football’s foremost priority and we all have a role to play in doing everything we can to keep each other safe – police, officials and supporters.”
The key ‘Know The Game Plan’ advice all fans are asked to follow is as follows:
*arrive early, allowing more time for security checks
*minimise what you carry as fewer bag searches will speed up entry to the ground
*be vigilant at all times and if you see anything suspicious, tell a steward right away
*if you see anything that could pose an immediate threat to safety then call 999
*in an emergency, listen to the public address instructions and follow them
*if told to evacuate, do so immediately and don’t wait around to film events on your mobile phone
*move right away from the stadium as quickly as possible for your own safety and also to allow clear access for any emergency vehicles
*once you are safe, follow the local police force on Twitter for updates