Responsibility for the safety at a sports grounds lies at all times with ground management.

However, at certain sports grounds and for certain matches or events the presence of the police may be required to maintain public order and prevent the commission of offences.

Whether there is a police presence or not, responsibility for the enforcement of ground regulations remains with the stadium management. Police officers are not present to overcome inadequacies in safety management.

If there is to be a police presence in or at the sports ground, management should consult with police in advance and draw up a Statement of Intent. This should set out the division of responsibilities and functions and make clear who will assume responsibility in particular circumstances.

What does the legislation on sports ground safety say about policing?

Section 2 (2A) of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 states that:

“No condition of a safety certificate shall require the provision of the services at the ground of any member of a police force unless the extent of the provision is reserved for the determination of the chief officer of police of the force.”

We have a list of historic Home Office circulars which also provide additional information on the requirements for policing.

What does the Police Act say?

Section 25 of the Police Act 1996 states that:

“The chief officer of police of a police force may provide, at the request of any person, special police services at any premises or in any locality in the police area for which the force is maintained, subject to the payment to the police authority of charges on such scales as may be determined by that authority”.

For what can the police charge?

Home Office Circular 34/2000 states (in paragraph 13.4) that:

“The aim in principle should be to recover the full cost of:

  • those police officers who are deployed at football matches on the private property of the football club; and
  • where officers are posted outside the ground for part of their tour of duty and inside it for the remainder, the full cost of their time spent inside should also be recovered.”