Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Police and Safety Forum
Monday 3 October 2016
Tottenham Hotspur Football & Athletic Co Ltd, Lilywhite House, 6pm
Sue Tilling, Senior Safety Officer, THFC
Bob McIver, London Borough of Haringey
Jonathan Waite, Head of Supporter Services, THFC
Constable Noel Deady, Football Officer, Met Police
Martin Cloake, Co-chair, THST
Katrina Law, Co-chair, THST
Kevin Fitzgerald, Board member, THST
Bernie Kingsley, Consultant
1. Summary of 2015/16 season
ND provided a summary of last season in terms of problem games and arrest figures at White Hart Lane. Both Arsenal home games were flagged, League Cup and Premier League, along with the West Ham league match.
In terms of the policing of the Arsenal League Cup match, including the hold back of visiting supporters, ND acknowledged the issues. A full debrief had been held and lessons had been learned for the future. There were a total of 10 arrests at this match (7 Arsenal and 3 Spurs).
Regarding the West Ham home game, after the problems pre match, the rest of the afternoon went off relatively quietly, with only 3 arrests.
As regards away games, West Ham had seen 3 arrests. Chelsea was flagged as a match which worked really well despite the concerns over an 8pm kick off on a Bank Holiday Monday.
In total, there were 52 arrests at White Hart Lane last season. 20 home fans, 21 away fans and 11 ‘neutrals’. This is up slightly on previous seasons but worth remembering that 10 had been at the Arsenal match.
ST informed of a new match day commander, Jude Beehag-Fisher, who was present at the City match along with a senior officer. ST reported the relationship was going well so far.
Regarding the recent League Cup match against Gillingham, arrests were made for anti-Semitic behaviour and, as these enquiries are ongoing, we are not able to report any further at this point.
2. Approach for the 2016/17 season: Stewarding the Park Lane Lower
The removal of 4000 seats from the North East corner and subsequent relocation of 1800 Paxton Road Season Ticket holders to the Park Lane lower has led to some challenges for the fans and stewards at White Hart Lane this season.
ST reported that the first home game of the season v Crystal Palace had been difficult in terms of stewarding, as the new arrivals bedded in to a very different match day environment than the one they were used to. By the Liverpool match, things had improved but, again, at the Manchester City match, there were some issues. These mainly revolve around standing / sitting during a very exciting, high tempo match.
As is well documented, persistent standing is not currently allowed in top flight stadia so Stewards are obliged to make attempts to ask fans to sit down. The fact that a common sense approach recognising the crowd's response to events on the pitch had been employed successfully was noted, as was the tendency of the crowd to self-police over time.
JW confirmed that the majority of Paxtonites unhappy in their new surroundings had now been relocated elsewhere around the stadium and ST anticipates a calmer experience at the next home league match.
- Visiting allocations
- Stewarding at Wembley
- Communications and regulations on flags and banners
JW countered that regulations had to be met, including providing a fire certificate for each flag. JW also commented that all the information fans needed was on the iSpurs portal under ‘flags’.
ST explained that fans wishing to take in flags over the size stipulated in both WHL and Wembley regs only needed to write to the Club once to be able to take that flag in for the whole season.
3. Policing of football matches in London
THST had attended meetings with the Met, Clubs and opposing fan groups ahead of the West Ham away game, Chelsea away game, Arsenal home and away games last season. These were valuable in terms of understanding the police approach to ‘higher risk’ games and the benefit of being able to communicate key messaging to the fan base in the run up to matches. However, wash up / debrief sessions had often been cancelled and these were beneficial for THST to be able to gauge how helpful their input is and what other areas to focus on for future meetings.
ND accepted the wash ups had often been cancelled or not scheduled because of diary issues and other work commitments. It was agreed, with a run of fixtures coming up in November, to schedule one wash up session for early December to cover Arsenal away, West Ham at home and Chelsea away. THST to provide ND with dates.
The pre meet with CFC ahead of the away match in May was held up as a good example of the positive outcomes from fan/ club/ police meetings, where years of problematic entrances at Stamford Bridge were overcome by linked messaging and clear communications.
- Policing the stadium footprint
The footprint at WHL was the stadium itself. The footprint at the new stadium was still being discussed.
4. Fan representation on Safety Advisory Groups
BM confirmed that THST would be invited to send a representative to the next meeting of the Haringey Safety Advisory Group after this was trialled last season.
ST agreed to raise the value of fan involvement with Brent’s SAG in due course, also.
5. Transport/ infrastructure
BM confirmed that the planning application for White Hart Lane station had now been lodged. The scheme is behind schedule, as documented in the minutes from the recent meeting of the THFC and THST Boards. The plan remained to carry out the majority of the work during Tottenham’s season away but BM didn’t see any changes to this plan as a barrier to not opening the stadium on time.
As regards Haringey Council’s High Road West proposals, BM is in the loop on both High Road West and High Road East, with THFC also receiving regular updates. The tender stage is ongoing and was now down to 3 developers only.
There was some discussion around the impact of the engineering works on the rail network for the City match.
THST understood the Controlled Parking Zone will be extended into N18 for the opening of the new stadium. It was agreed to speak with Richard Serra, Head of Planning at THFC, for further details.
6. Rail Seating
THST asked BM for the London Borough of Haringey’s position on rail seating. BM responded that Haringey’s view was that primary legislative change needed to happen before it would be allowed. In terms of the definition of rail seating, BM felt that rail seating lead to standing and, therefore, rail seating areas are standing areas. Should there be a change in legislation, Haringey Council would be in favour of standing areas.
BM commented that any change in primary legislation would be a decision for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and subsequently the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).
- BK asked whether the single tier south stand in the new stadium would be a fully singular progression from front to back like the Anfield Kop, or would there be some vertical breaks similar to those in the lower tier at Wembley? JW confirmed the main central section would be single progression but the wings would have breaks for wheelchair positions.
- BK asked why the west facing exit gate at the bottom of the staircase from the North Upper at the North West corner had only been half open at the end of games this season? ST said she thought this issue had been corrected after the first home game and would ensure it was fully open in future.
- BK asked about the 'grill' on the outside of the North stand adjacent to the same staircase (NW corner) which has only very small viewing gaps in it leading to congestion as supporters naturally try to see progress on the building site on the way in and out. He suggested it would be better to create a much bigger gap so people didn't have to actually stop to look out. ST and JW agreed to look at this and raise it with the stadium manager.
Meeting concluded at 7.30pm.