|Public meeting on Policing and Stewarding next Saturday|
Sat 04th Aug 2012 09:18 by Tim Whelan
If you think that the standard of policing and stewarding at Elland Road leaves a lot to be desired, please come and have your say at a public meeting after the Shrewsbury game next Saturday.
In the last few years many Leeds United fans have found some of the stewards at Elland Road to be needlessly aggressive, and it seems that it’s not just us. National fans’ group The Football Supporters Federation have reported on their website that they get “a disproportionate number of complaints about stewarding at Elland Road from both home and away fans”. It seems to have got worse for the visitors since they were moved to the West Stand, with obsessive filming of the away support, even when it consisted of just a few dozen Coventry fans on a Tuesday night.
And one long-standing Leeds fan who suffered was Darrel Boland. As we reported in April, he was thrown out of the stadium at the Man U League Cup tie just for taking a wrong turning while he escorted his grandson to the toilet! On this occasion the club’s safety officer Sue Kilroy refused to even reply to Darrel’s complaints about the way he was treated, let alone apologise for this incident…
To get a clearer picture of the way fans were treated, the FSF conducted a survey, along with the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust. 919 fans replied, and while 32% of found the police approachable on a match day, 54% think their presence is excessive at certain games. And Three out of four fans think club stewards do a better job than agency staff, with many describing the latter as ‘bouncers’.
One fan said “As a former policeman, I would describe the stewards as bouncers in orange jackets, with very, very poor people management skills and a disproportionate approach to minor issues, they actually suppress the enjoyment and atmosphere at games.”
FSF caseworker Amanda Jacks told their website “Both the FSF and LUST were concerned to see that the results bear out what we’d heard from anecdotal evidence - more than half of the respondents find stewards unfriendly and rude with an extremely worrying 46% of them saying they think stewards can be aggressive. We would strongly urge the management at Leeds United to look again at how fans at Elland Road are stewarded. We hope that the results of the survey mean that LUST, WYP and LUFC can work together to improve stewarding and policing to ensure an enjoyable and safe match day for all.”
But Chief superintendent Paul Money, the divisional commander of the area which covers Elland Road, said: “We welcome the feedback from the survey which in the main is very supportive of the policing style - an approach intended from the outset to be low key, fair and friendly. This has been reflected by the perceptions of a number of respondents.”
So what do you think? LUST are an open meeting at the Magic Sponge (Soccer City, Lowfields Road, 6pm) after the League Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town on Saturday 11th August to discuss both policing and stewarding at the stadium. Amanda Jacks from the FSF and PC Bryn Stokes, local football intelligence officer will be in attendance, and despite the club’s contemptuous attitude towards LUST, Shaun Harvey is going to lower himself to come along.
It should make for a very interesting discussion.
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