Police defend their handling of Leeds game

Norfolk police have defended their policing of the last Canaries match at Carrow Road – and said that months of preparations had been carried out for the weekend’s derby game.

Some Norwich City fans have questioned the force’s handling of away fans during Saturday’s match against Leeds. Many have vented their frustrations on the Pink ‘Un message boards while others have contacted the police directly.

Jarrold Stand season ticket holder Cameron Newark said more than 2,000 Leeds fans were allowed to leave the ground but were then held up by the police, meaning neither they nor Norwich fans were able to leave from that end of the ground. “It was total chaos and dangerous in the car park where people were being squeezed up against cars and trying to get over or under metal barriers to find a way out,” he said. “Fortunately both sets of fans were well behaved.”

Chief Supt Sarah Hamlin will take charge of policing the Norwich vs Ipswich game. Although she was not present for the Leeds match, she said officers had to act quickly depending on how the situation in front of them develops.

She said: “On this occasion we put a cordon in place and I understand that may have created frustrations for some fans who were attempting to leave from a certain direction.

“However, the decision was made based on the path of least resistance and how we could get the majority of fans clear of the ground without any confrontation. It was never the intention for anybody to feel that they could not get out of the ground but we have to take the decisions which we believe are in the interests of public safety. We avoid holding fans whenever possible.”

She added: “All sorts of issues have an impact on the way we police football matches. In the case of the Leeds match our intelligence changed shortly before the game to suggest there was a possibility of trouble, although fortunately nothing came of that.

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“Depending on the result or the importance of a particular game, the dynamics of the crowd can change and we have to react to that.

“We will have a similar presence at the derby game as we did at the Leeds match. Generally speaking the derbies are good natured and both Norwich and Ipswich are friendly, family clubs. But obviously passions can run high.

“We have been preparing for more than two months. Policing football matches is about more than simply preventing fights. It is also about managing crowds to prevent surges and to avoid people getting injured accidentally.”

She added that a decision on policing levels in Norwich after the match would be made depending on how the match unfolds. “We will have normal policing levels in place but if there is intelligence to suggest the match will lead to more trouble than would otherwise be the case, it will be my decision as to how we police that,” she said.