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Policing related legislation

Details related to policing and the safety certificate and police charging.

Responsibility for the safety at a sports ground 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.

Policing and the safety certificate

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.”

Historic Home Office circulars also provide additional information on the requirements for policing.

Police and Safety Advisory Groups (SAGs)

The police are a key partner for sports grounds safety and should be a central member of a ground’s SAG.

Police charges

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”.

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.”

Police charging has been tested in the following court cases:

Reading Festival Limited v West Yorkshire Police (The Mean Fiddler Case)

The Court held that the police may recover the cost of policing outside the event, provided that the policing had been at the request of the event organiser. However, the organiser had made no explicit request in this case and none could be implied.

Greater Manchester Police v Wigan Athletic

The Court held that, once there has been a request for special police services, the police are entitled to charge for services provided within the curtilage of the ground (on its private land) as well as inside the ground but not for normal police services further afield.

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A police presence may be required to maintain public order and prevent the commission of offences.

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